Umbrella review found that exercise therapy improves functional capacity and reduces disability in individuals with chronic disease

This umbrella review included 85 meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of exercise therapy on functional capacity in people with chronic disease. Exercise therapy was compared with no treatment or usual care in adults with non-communicable chronic diseases defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The methodological quality of the included meta-analysis was evaluated using the AMSTAR checklist. The type of exercise therapy was classified into four categories: aerobic exercise, resistance training, aerobic and resistance training combined, and other condition-specific exercise-based training. The authors conclude that exercise therapy was effective for improving physical performance and functional capacity in all included chronic diseases (Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic heart failure, chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cognitive impairment, coronary heart disease, dementia, fibromyalgia, interstitial lung disease, multiple sclerosis, osteoarthritis, Parkinson’s disease, peripheral arterial disease, rheumatoid arthritis, stroke, and type 2 diabetes). Around half of the effect estimates were of moderate to large magnitude and likely to be clinically important. Results were mostly similar among the different types of exercises, except for condition-specific programs that had a lower proportion of significant results compared with the others. Exercise also appears to be safe, but adverse events were not consistently reported. Exercise therapy should be recommended for people with chronic disease to improve functional capacity and reduce disability.

Pasanen T et al. Exercise therapy for functional capacity in chronic diseases: an overview of meta-analyses of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med 2017;51:1459-65

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