Background Due to involvement of the skin and vital organs systemic sclerosis (SSc) can affect physical activity (PA). For SSc, positive effects of exercise therapy have been reported.1 To support SSc patients to improve the exercise capacity it is important to be informed about the overall level of PA of patients with SSc, and disease specific manifestations that might interfere with exercise.
Objectives To gain more insight in the level of PA of Dutch SSc patients, this study assessed the self-reported levels of PA in SSc patients and compared these levels to data of the general Dutch population. In addition, factors associated with PA levels in SSc patients and needs and preferences of SSC patients regarding exercise were examined.
Methods Fifty-nine SSc patients referred to a multidisciplinary health care program and fulfilling the ACR 19802 or LeRoy3 criteria for systemic sclerosis filled in the Short QUestionnaire to ASess Health-Enhancing PA (SQUASH) comprising 10 questions about PA4. The proportion of patients meeting the Dutch public health recommendation for PA (i.e., moderate PA for 30 minutes on > or =5 days/wk) and the total number of minutes of PA per week were calculated. These data were compared with similar data from a representative sample of the general Dutch population. Characteristics of patients with high level of PA (defined as > mean PA in minutes/week for the Dutch population) were compared with patients with low level of PA (≤ mean PA in minutes/week for the Dutch population). The needs and preferences of patients with SSc regarding exercise were assessed.
Results The proportion of SSc patients meeting the Dutch Recommendation for Health Enhancing PA was higher than the proportion of the general Dutch population (68% vs 59% for the total group; P not significant). The average number of minutes of PA per week was significantly lower in the SSc population compared with the general population (1729 vs. 2614, respectively, P<0.001). No significant association was found between specific disease characteristics and lower level of PA. SSc patients who did not meet the Dutch Recommendation for Health-Enhancing PA more often reported pain during exercise and a lack of energy interfering with exercise. Thirty percent of patients stated to need more information about exercising and depended on advices of the rheumatologist concerning exercise.
Conclusions The proportion of SSc patients meeting the Dutch Recommendation for Health-Enhancing PA is not significantly different from the Dutch population. However, with respect to the average number of minutes of PA per week, SSc patients were less physically active. In patients not meeting the Dutch recommendation for Health Enhancing PA pain and lack of energy might interfere with proper exercising.
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LeRoy E et al. J Rheumatol. 2001;28(7):1573–6.
Wendel-Vos G et al. J Clin Epidemiol. 2003 56(12):1163–9.
Disclosure of Interest None declared