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Exercise is a key component of the management of ankylosing spondylitis (AS). Despite numerous benefits, compliance with exercise programs is low. Little attention has been accorded to the experiences of individuals with AS toward physical activity (PA). This study aimed to explore the attitudes toward PA and exercise of adults with AS.
A qualitative descriptive design using thematic analysis was used. Seventeen adults with AS participated in individual, semistructured interviews. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, coded and analyzed for themes and subthemes.
Four themes emerged from the analysis: (1) benefits, (2) barriers, (3) motivation, and (4) strategies and enablers. Benefits included amelioration of symptoms, improvements in general health, and enhancement of quality of life. Subthemes of barriers to PA included lack of resources, negative attitudes to exercise, misinformation, and condition-related factors. Motivation to exercise was influenced by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Participants proposed strategies to enhance PA participation and exercise engagement.
Awareness of the benefits of PA appears insufficient to motivate individuals with AS to exercise; a number of factors influence individual motivation to exercise. Many perceived barriers to PA may be considered modifiable. Individually-tailored interventions, collaboratively developed by the individual and the healthcare professionals, were proposed as strategies for effective PA and exercise prescription.
O’Dwyer (firstname.lastname@example.org), McGowan, and Wilson are with the Physiotherapy Dept, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. O’Shea is with the Rheumatology Dept, St. James’s Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.