exercise and axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) - arthritis of the spine

A recent assessor blinded multi centred randomised control trial (RCT) investigated the effect of high intensity exercises on disease activity in patients with axSpA - a chronic inflammatory rheumatic disease manifesting as inflammatory back pain, reduced joint mobility and disability and an associated risk of cardiovascular disease (Sveaas et al. 2019). This trial is believed to be the first to examine the effects of high intensity exercise programs in a large sample of patients with axSpA.

High intensity exercises reduced disease symptoms including pain, stiffness and fatigue as well as inflammation. It improves overall health and cardiovascular function and DEBUNKS previous beliefs that high intensity activity may exacerbate disease activity in patients with axSpA.

So what does this mean? If you have axSpA and do not exercise or limit exercise due to concerns about making the disease progress, you may not be doing yourself any favours. However, always seek professional advice before undertaking a change in your exercise regime.

I personally suffer from axSpA and have managed to find a balance in cardiovascular exercise and a resistance training program that keeps my symptoms in check. The bottom line is keeping moving and see a movement specialist like a physiotherapist to help you manage your symptoms and stay fit and healthy!

The abstract to the paper and a link to the British journal of Sports Medicine (BJSM) can be found at

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