Research News Flash
Summary: Whitney Neal
Source Article: Van Oort, C., Tupper, S. M., Rosenberg, A. M., Farthing, J. P., & Baxter-Jones, A. D. (2013). Safety and feasibility of a home-based six week resistance training program in juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Pediatric Rheumatology, 11(1), 46.
Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is one of the most common chronic diseases among children and can be associated with pain, lower quality of life, less participation in social activities, as well as reduced physical activity levels compared to children without JIA. Although extensive research into the effects of prolonged resistance training in children with JIA has not been performed, it is believed that it could decrease inflammation and subsequently reduce pain, in addition to improving muscular strength and endurance. However, distance of travel to a supervised exercise program, scheduling conflicts and a lack of time were identified as common reasons for not adhering to an exercise program in children with JIA. Because of this, home-based exercise programs could be optimal. They offer the benefit of being affordable while limiting the demands for travel, supervision and schedule coordination. This study examined the safety and feasibility of a home-based six-week resistance training program for children with JIA.
Children between eight and 18 years with juvenile idiopathic arthritis were enrolled in a home-based resistance program. The intervention was a combined body weight and resistance training program lasting six weeks. Participants performed circuit training exercises three times per week for approximately 40 minutes each session. Exercises such as squats, lunges, bicep curls, and planks were selected to provide training to major muscle groups of the body. Participants were shown modifications of exercises in the event that certain exercises caused joint pain. Pain was reported via an electronic diary by participants once per day for the entire week before the exercise program to estimate baseline pain. During the six-week training period, pain was reported once daily on non-resistance training days and three times per day (before-exercise, after-exercise, end-of day) on resistance training days. Secondary measures included muscle size, muscle strength, joint inflammation and functional ability, and were assessed both at baseline and after the exercise training. Baseline physical activity was also measured in participants by using accelerometers over a seven-day period.
Seven participants (four females, three males) completed an average of 12.7 out of a possible 18 exercise sessions. No adverse events occurred, and pain did not increase throughout the course of the program. Muscle thickness in the vastus lateralis significantly increased from before to after the program, but no other muscle parameters changed considerably. Also, all participants reported that they felt the exercise program was enjoyable.
The results of this study suggest the program is safe, feasible, and acceptable for children with JIA. A few limitations of the study include small sample size, lack of representation of all disease types of JIA and the short duration of the exercise program. Further research addressing these limitations is necessary to definitively determine the effects of resistance training in children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.