PHYSICAL activity is beneficial for people with spondyloarthritis (SpA), according to a randomised controlled trial that aimed to evaluate whether wearing an activity tracker had an impact on disease flares. While previous studies have indicated that wearable activity trackers (WAT) are beneficial, the researchers noted that these devices were worn as part of physical activity programmes, while the control groups had no exercise sessions or advice.
During this trial, 108 participants with SpA were encouraged to engage in physical activity, completing two exercise sessions a week. During weeks 25–36, all participants also participated in a coach-supervised exercise for 1 hour a week. They were randomly assigned to wear a WAT or not from weeks 0–12 and weeks 25–36.
In both groups, the average number of moderate flares improved from baseline to Week 12, from 0.7 to 0.5 in the group wearing WATs and from 1.0 to 0.5 in the control group. The number of persistent flares also improved, from 0.6 to 0.4 in the group wearing WATs and from 0.6 to 0.5 in the control group. For both of these outcomes, the numbers did not differ significantly between the two groups
The researchers concluded there is no benefit to using WATs; however, author Christian Roux, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) de Nice, France, stated: “The absence of a difference between the two groups suggests that [physical activity] advice might be sufficient to reduce the number of flares and disease activity, and to improve physical performance in patients with SpA.”
While this study did not meet the primary endpoint, as the use of a WAT and physical exercise did not reduce active disease, it provides further evidence to suggest that physical activity has a beneficial impact in people with SpA.