Exercise training has emerged as a potential therapeutic strategy to counteract the decline in physical function and aerobic capacity in pediatric rheumatic disease.
Purpose: We report for the first time on the effects of exercise training in juvenile systemic lupus erythematosus (JSLE) and antiphospholipid syndrome (APS).
Methods: A 15-yr-old boy with JSLE and APS treated with warfarin, azathioprine, and prednisone underwent a 12-wk aerobic exercise training program to improve his physical capacity and functioning. Before and after the 12-wk exercise program, the patient was submitted to incremental cardiopulmonary tests to determine V˙O2peak, peak and submaximal exercise intensity, and time to exhaustion. In addition, a 6-min square-wave test was performed for assessing metabolic parameters. Functioning was assessed by using the visual analog scale. Laboratory parameters of inflammation were also assessed at baseline and 48 h after the last training session.
Results: All the cardiopulmonary parameters (e.g., V˙O2max = +36.0%, time to exhaustion = +67.8%, peak exercise intensity = +16.7%) and the metabolic cost of movement (e.g., energy expenditure = −28.3% to −33.3%, V˙O2 = −29.3% to −33.4%) were improved. Both disease activity and cumulative damage scores did not change after the intervention, and no evidence of exercise-induced exacerbation of inflammation was observed. Visual analog scale scores were also improved according to the patients’ evaluation (before intervention = 8 vs after intervention = 10), parents’ evaluation (before intervention = 8 vs after intervention = 10), and physicians’ evaluation (before intervention = 6 vs after intervention = 9).
Conclusions: This is the first evidence that a 12-wk supervised aerobic training program can be safe and effective in improving aerobic conditioning and physical function in a patient with JSLE and APS. In light of these findings, the therapeutic effects of exercise training in pediatric rheumatic diseases merit further investigations.