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Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2009 Dec;45(4):449-57. Epub 2009 Jul 23.

Are swimming or aerobic exercise better than conventional exercise in ankylosing spondylitis patients? A randomized controlled study.

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Department of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Ege University, Izmir, Turkey.



The aim of the study was to compare the effects of conventional exercise (CE), swimming and walking on the pulmonary functions, aerobic capacity, quality of life, Bath indexes and psychological symptoms in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS).


Forty-five patients were randomised into either swimming (group 1), walking (group 2), CE group (group 3). Patients in Group 1 performed CE and swimming, patients in Group 2 performed CE and walking and patients in Group 3 performed CE only. Exercise sessions were performed three times a week for a period of six weeks. Patients were assessed before and after the rehabilitation program, with respect to, pulmonary function test (forced vital capacity [FVC, mL], forced expiration volume in one second [FEV1, mL], FEV1/FVC (%) and vital capacity [VC, mL]), maximal oxygen uptake (pV.O2), 6-minute walking test (6MWT), Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Functional Index, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Disease Activity Index, Bath Ankylosing Spondylitis Metrology Index, Nottingham Health Profile and Beck Depression Inventory.


There were significant increases in pVO2 and 6MWT after treatment in Groups 1 and 2 (P<0.05). FeV1, FVC and VC improved significantly with treatment in all three groups (P<0.05). A statistically significant improvement was observed in energy, emotional reaction and physical mobility sub-scores of NHP in three exercise groups after completion of the exercise program (P<0.05).


Swimming, walking and CE had beneficial effects on the quality of life and pulmonary functions. Aerobic exercises such as swimming and walking in addition to CE increased functional capacities of patients.

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