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Three months water aerobics do not cure rheumatoid arthritis

Three months water aerobics do not cure rheumatoid arthritis

 A clinical trial evaluating the efficacy of a three-month aerobics program in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

A randomized controlled trial of German Bilberg and colleagues, published in the journal Rheumatology in 2005, evaluates the effectiveness of a program of aerobics three months compared to a control group on the quality of life, aerobic capacity and muscle endurance in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The results showed no difference between groups with respect to the quality of life and aerobic capacity. In contrast, muscle endurance improved in the group that participated in the aqua aerobics.


The Study Rationale

Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic disease characterized by nonspecific inflammation of the joints and symmetric lower or upper limbs. Articular and peri-articular structures destroy themselves gradually. The main symptoms are joint pain, fatigue, stiffness and reduced range of motion. Patients suffer from progressive muscle weakness. The combination of these symptoms associated with deteriorating physical condition has a very negative impact on the activities of daily living and quality of life.

The aerobics is a common intervention for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. The physical properties of water such as the buoyancy and facilitate temperature bodily movements and reduce subjective sensations of rigidity and load on the joints.

A water aerobics three-month program would improve physical ability, endurance and muscle strength without aggravating the inflammatory arthritis process.

The Question

Three months aqua-they improve aerobic capacity, functional ability and perceived physical health of patients with rheumatoid arthritis?

The Protocol

The randomized controlled Bilberg and colleagues, published in the journal Rheumatology in 2005, compared the effectiveness of a water aerobics program on endurance, functional capacity and perceived physical health to a control group without intervention. The study examined 47 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, aged 20-65 years. The study included patients whose disease was diagnosed between one and five years prior to study participation. Drug treatment should be stabilized during the three months prior to surgery.

Patients were randomly placed either in the group benefiting from the aerobics program or in the control group following routine care. The evaluations were performed by physiotherapists who did not know the group of belonging patients. The researchers measured the quality of life (SF-36), aerobic capacity (submaximal endurance test on a cycle ergometer), muscular endurance (test of the chair and isometric endurance test of the shoulder) and flexibility. Patients were evaluated at the beginning and end of the intervention and at 6 months follow-up.

The tested Non-Pharmacological Intervention (NPI)

The NPI was an adapted physical activity program (APA) based on water aerobics exercises and having two sessions a week for three months. Each group was composed of 8 to 9 patients. Each session lasted 45 minutes. The sessions included endurance exercises, dynamic muscle strength (eccentric and concentric) and static muscular endurance, flexibility, coordination and muscular relaxation. The sessions were conducted in music. Two physiotherapists supervised sessions and gave individual instructions when patients in need.

Main Results

The results showed no difference between groups at the levels of quality of life and aerobic capacity at the end of three months program. However, muscular endurance and flexibility are improving for the aerobics group. At six months, aerobic capacity and quality of life remain unchanged in both groups. In contrast, muscle endurance improved in the group that participated in the aqua aerobics.

Six months after the suitable program of aerobics, profits remain at the level of muscular endurance in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, the aerobic capacity and quality of life remained unchanged.


What it means for Patients

A suitable program of aerobics three months improves muscle endurance in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. However, aerobic capacity is not improved. Quality of life, either.

What it means for Healthcare Professionals

An adapted program of aerobics three months strengthens muscular endurance. Aerobic capacity is not improved by the end of the program, or six months later. The number of sessions is probably insufficient to observe significant improvements. No action directly concerns the symptomatology.

What it means for Researchers

The statistics are not suitable since the authors are more interested in temporal variations of groups that the difference between groups at each time.

What it means for Policymakers

An adapted program of aerobics three months for two sessions a week improves muscle endurance in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. These benefits persist six months after the program. Future studies should confirm these results.


The reference

Bilberg A, Ahlmen M, Mannerkorpi K (2005). Moderately intensive exercise in a temperate pool for patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized controlled study. Rheumatology, 44, 502-508.


Related articles on Blog en Sante ©

Same topic

Same population

Same non-pharmacological intervention


To reference this Blog en Sante © article.

Ninot G (2016). Three months water aerobics do not cure rheumatoid arthritis. Blog en Sante, A75.

© Copyright 2016 Grégory Ninot. All rights reserved.

One thought on “Three months water aerobics do not cure rheumatoid arthritis
  1. Mathilde says:

    je pratique l’aquagym et c’est vraiment bon pour la santé. J’en suis contente. J’ai senti des améliorations et c’est dommage que ce test s’arrête au bout de 3 mois, je suis sûre que sinon y aurait eu de plus grands résultats.

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