Background Previous studies have demonstrated that physical activity has several benefits among the general population. In patients with systemic sclerosis (SSc) few studies concerning the frequency of physical activity are sparse and no studies have compared different aspects of physical activity between patients with SSc and the general population.
Objectives The aim of the study was to examine different aspects of self-reported physical activity in patients with SSc and matched population controls.
Methods 106 patients, fulfilling the ACR criteria for SSc, and 106 controls, individually matched for age, gender and living region were investigated clinically by a rheumatologist. All participants filled out a questionnaire about exercise capacity, physical activity and sedentary behaviour. A nurse collected the questionnaire and measured weight and height.
Results In total, 178 women and 34 men were included. The mean age of the patients was 61.9 (SD 12.4) and for controls 62.01 (SD 12.4) years. The Body Mass Index was lower in patients, mean 24.4 (SD 3.7), than controls, 26.1 (3.9) (p=0.001). The patients reported lower capacity for walking, jogging and running compared to controls (p<0.001). There were no significant difference in physical exercise the previous year between the patients and the controls (p=0.1). Similar results concerning physical activity on “low to moderate” intensity 6-7 times/week were reported in patients (36%) and controls (31%) (ns). Concerning physical activity on “high” intensity 4-7 times/week the results also were similar in patients (17%) and controls (19%) (ns).
Conclusions This is the first study reporting different aspects of physical activity in patients with SSc compared to matched controls. Although the patients reported lower exercise capacity than controls, this study indicated that there was no difference in physical exercise the previous year. Only approximately 1/5 of both patients and controls reached the general recommendations for physical activity, i.e. on high intensity. Future interventions should focus on supporting increased physical activity and exercise in patients with SSc.
Disclosure of Interest None declared