Waller (2017) Effects of high intensity resistance aquatic training on body composition and walking speed in women with mild knee osteoarthritis: a 4-month RCT with 12-month follow-up

Introduction to Aquatic Resistance Training

Knee osteoarthritis (OA) significantly impacts physical activity and quality of life. With no cure for OA, management focuses on symptom relief and functional improvement. High-intensity aquatic resistance training emerges as a promising intervention for mitigating these challenges, particularly in post-menopausal women with mild knee OA.

Study Overview and Objectives

This randomized clinical trial assessed the effects of a 4-month high-intensity aquatic resistance training program on body composition and walking speed in post-menopausal women with mild knee OA. The study also examined the impact of leisure time physical activity (LTPA) on these outcomes, both immediately post-intervention and after a 12-month follow-up.

Methodological Approach

Eighty-seven post-menopausal women were randomly assigned to either the intervention group, which underwent 48 supervised aquatic resistance training sessions, or the control group, which maintained their normal physical activity levels. Body composition was evaluated using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), and walking speed was measured over a 2 km distance. The knee injury and osteoarthritis outcome score (KOOS) and LTPA levels were also assessed.

Key Findings

Post-intervention, the aquatic training group showed a significant reduction in fat mass and an improvement in walking speed, indicating the potential of aquatic exercise in enhancing functional mobility and altering body composition favorably. However, these changes in body composition were not maintained at the 12-month follow-up, unlike the sustained improvement in walking speed. Higher levels of LTPA correlated with fat mass loss, highlighting the importance of overall physical activity in managing OA.

Conclusion and Implications

High-intensity aquatic resistance training effectively improves walking speed and reduces fat mass in women with mild knee OA, with walking speed improvements persisting for at least 12 months. These findings underscore the role of aquatic exercise and active lifestyles in managing knee OA symptoms and enhancing quality of life. Future research should explore the integration of lifestyle education to maximize the long-term benefits of aquatic resistance training for knee OA management.

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