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Exercise training in childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus: a controlled randomized trial

Danilo ML Prado1, Fabiana B Benatti12, Ana L de Sá-Pinto1, Ana P Hayashi1, Bruno Gualano12, Rosa MR Pereira1, Adriana ME Sallum3, Eloisa Bonfá1, Clovis A Silva3 and Hamilton Roschel12*

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Rheumatology, School of Medicine, University of Sao Paulo, Av. Dr. Eneas de Carvalho Aguiar, 255 - Sao Paulo, SP, CEP 05403-000, Brazil

2 School of Physical Education and Sport, University of Sao Paulo, Rua Professor Mello Moraes, 65- Sao Paulo, SP, CEP 05025-010, Brazil

3 Pediatric Rheumatology Unit, Children's Institute, School of Medicine, University of Sao Paulo, Av. Dr. Arnaldo, 455 - Cerqueira César, Sao Paulo, SP, CEP 01246-903, Brazil

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2013, 15:R46  doi:10.1186/ar4205

Published: 26 March 2013



Exercise training has emerged as a promising therapeutic strategy to counteract physical dysfunction in adult systemic lupus erythematosus. However, no longitudinal studies have evaluated the effects of an exercise training program in childhood-onset systemic lupus erythematosus (C-SLE) patients. The objective was to evaluate the safety and the efficacy of a supervised aerobic training program in improving the cardiorespiratory capacity in C-SLE patients.


Nineteen physically inactive C-SLE patients were randomly assigned into two groups: trained (TR, n = 10, supervised moderate-intensity aerobic exercise program) and non-trained (NT, n = 9). Gender-, body mass index (BMI)- and age-matched healthy children were recruited as controls (C, n = 10) for baseline (PRE) measurements only. C-SLE patients were assessed at PRE and after 12 weeks of training (POST). Main measurements included exercise tolerance and cardiorespiratory measurements in response to a maximal exercise (that is, peak VO2, chronotropic reserve (CR), and the heart rate recovery (ΔHRR) (that is, the difference between HR at peak exercise and at both the first (ΔHRR1) and second (ΔHRR2) minutes of recovery after exercise).


The C-SLE NT patients did not present changes in any of the cardiorespiratory parameters at POST (P > 0.05). In contrast, the exercise training program was effective in promoting significant increases in time-to-exhaustion (P = 0.01; ES = 1.07), peak speed (P = 0.01; ES = 1.08), peak VO2 (P = 0.04; ES = 0.86), CR (P = 0.06; ES = 0.83), and in ΔHRR1 and ΔHRR2 (P = 0.003; ES = 1.29 and P = 0.0008; ES = 1.36, respectively) in the C-SLE TR when compared with the NT group. Moreover, cardiorespiratory parameters were comparable between C-SLE TR patients and C subjects after the exercise training intervention, as evidenced by the ANOVA analysis (P > 0.05, TR vs. C). SLEDAI-2K scores remained stable throughout the study.


A 3-month aerobic exercise training was safe and capable of ameliorating the cardiorespiratory capacity and the autonomic function in C-SLE patients.

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