OBJECTIVE: To compare the effects of a 3-month land- and waterbased
exercise programme among rheumatoid arthritis (RA) sufferers.
METHODS: Patients with RA Functional Class I and II (N=10) were
randomly assigned to a land-based exercise group (Group L)
(N=4), water-based exercise group (Group W) (N=4) or a control
group (Group C) (N=2). Testing parameters included swollen joint
count (SJC), tender joint count (TJC), erythrocyte sedimentation
rate (ESR), haemoglobin (Hb), 50-ft (15.2-m) walk test, grip
strength, isokinetic strength of knee extensors and flexors, knee
range of motion (ROM) and aerobic capacity.
RESULTS: There were individual improvements in most of the
physical status parameters tested for the experimental groups
(land-based exercise group and water-based exercise group)
while the general trend for the control group was that of deterioration.
Appropriate land-based exercises did not appear to
aggravate disease activity. However, the water-based exercise
programme was superior in controlling the disease activity with
regards to the tender and swollen joint counts.
CONCLUSION: Both exercise interventions appeared to be beneficial
in the treatment of RA. Further research is required comparing
various modes of exercises for the treatment of RA, using
larger samples and evaluating the long-term effects.