Effects of high intensity resistance aquatic training on body composition and walking speed in women with mild knee osteoarthritis

Objective: To investigate the effects of 4-months intensive aquatic resistance training on body composition
and walking speed in post-menopausal women with mild knee osteoarthritis (OA), immediately
after intervention and after 12-months follow-up. Additionally, influence of leisure time physical activity
(LTPA) will be investigated.

Design: This randomised clinical trial assigned eighty-seven volunteer postmenopausal women into two
study arms. The intervention group (n ¼ 43) participated in 48 supervised intensive aquatic resistance
training sessions over 4-months while the control group (n ¼ 44) maintained normal physical activity.
Eighty four participants continued into the 12-months’ follow-up period. Body composition was
measured with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Walking speed over 2 km and the knee injury
and osteoarthritis outcome score (KOOS) were measured. LTPA was recorded with self-reported diaries.

Results: After the 4-month intervention there was a significant decrease (P ¼ 0.002) in fat mass (mean
change: 1.17 kg; 95% CI: 2.00 to 0.43) and increase (P ¼ 0.002) in walking speed (0.052 m/s; 95% CI:
0.018 to 0.086) in favour of the intervention group. Body composition returned to baseline after 12-
months. In contrast, increased walking speed was maintained (0.046 m/s; 95% CI 0.006 to 0.086,
P ¼ 0.032). No change was seen in lean mass or KOOS. Daily LTPA over the 16-months had a significant
effect (P ¼ 0.007) on fat mass loss (f2 ¼ 0.05) but no effect on walking speed.

Conclusions: Our findings show that high intensity aquatic resistance training decreases fat mass and
improves walking speed in post-menopausal women with mild knee OA. Only improvements in walking
speed were maintained at 12-months follow-up. Higher levels of LTPA were associated with fat mass loss.

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