Research: trial on aquatic excerise

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EpubKargarfard et al. Effect of aquatic exercise training on fatigue and health-related quality of life in patients with multiple sclerosis. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2012 May 16.

OBJECTIVE: To examine the effectiveness of aquatic exercise training on fatigue and health-related quality of life in women with MS.

DESIGN: Randomized controlled trial, 4 and 8 weeks follow-up.

PARTICIPANTS: 32 female MSers diagnosed with RRMS (Mean age ± SD: 32.6±8.0 years) were recruited into this study. After undergoing baseline testing by a neurologist, participants were randomly assigned to either an intervention (aquatic exercise) or a control group.

INTERVENTIONS: The intervention consisted of 8 weeks supervised aquatic exercise in a swimming pool (3 times a week, each session lasting 60 minutes).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: At the baseline, 4 weeks and 8 weeks fatigue and health-related quality of life were assessed by blind assessor using the Modified Fatigue Impact Scale and the Multiple Sclerosis Quality of Life-54 questionnaire, respectively. A mixed models approach to repeated measures analysis of variance was utilized to detect within and between subject effects.

RESULTS: Findings are based on 21 patients (10 from exercise and 11 controls) who had data available on outcomes. There was no significant difference between the two groups at the baseline. MSers in the aquatic exercise group showed significant improvements in fatigue and sub-scores of health-related quality of life after 4 and 8 weeks compared with the control group.

CONCLUSION: The findings suggest that aquatic exercise training can effectively improve fatigue and health-related quality of life of MSers and should be considered in the management of this relatively common public health problem.


“Easier said than done?”

“What is the problem with this study?”

“It could have been exercise that resulted in the positive results rather than aquatic exercises as such. In other words water may not be necessary.”

“Having said this MSers with temperature-related fatigue tend to prefer swimming to other forms of exercise and it is also easier for MSers with significant lower limb weakness to mobilise in a swimming pool.”

“Do any of you have experience with aquatic exercise  that you can share with us?”

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.

2 comments

  • I have been doing aqua exercise at MS Society pool for three years. I started out needing one on one sessions with a physiotherapist, graduated to classes, and am now 'Queen of the pool'. Standing on one leg lotus position balance, closed eyes for 30 seconds was something I could have only dreamed about at the start – now it's a snap! The pool allows stride length that is not always possible in 'real life', I can run in the pool, not possible on land. Pool classes enable many things that are difficult on land and some become transferable. It really helps with flexibility. I really enjoy my classes. To assess how tough the classes were at MS Society, I went to a local pool to a class of 40's age group ( my age), and found it far too easy – I left the group and continued with my MS exercises!

  • I swim regularly (a couple of times a week) in an attempt to maintain fitness. I swim for 20 – 45 minutes, depending on how much time I have. I find that my legs are pretty tired afterwards, and take a couple of hours to recover. I really notice a benefit with flexibilty, like the previous poster. However, this is not the same as aqua aerobics etc.

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