Patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) are less physically active than healthy peers. Therefore, we developed an Internet-based intervention to improve physical activity (PA). The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the program in improving PA.
PA was determined by activity-related energy expenditure, PA level, time spent on moderate to vigorous PA, and the number of days with ≥1 hour of moderate to vigorous activity, and was assessed with a 7-day activity diary. Aerobic exercise capacity was assessed by means of a Bruce treadmill test and was recorded as maximum endurance time. Disease activity was assessed by using the JIA core set. Adherence was electronically monitored.
Of 59 patients, 33 eligible patients were included and randomized in an intervention (n = 17, mean ± SD age 10.6 ± 1.5 years) or control waiting-list group (n = 16, mean ± SD age 10.8 ± 1.4 years). All patients completed baseline and T1 testing. PA significantly improved in both groups. Maximum endurance time significantly improved in the intervention group but not in the control group. In a subgroup analysis for patients with low PA (intervention: n = 7, control: n = 5), PA improved in the intervention group but not in the control group. The intervention was safe, feasible, and showed a good adherence.
An Internet-based program for children with JIA ages 8–12 years directed at promoting PA in daily life effectively improves PA in those patients with low PA levels. It is also able to improve endurance and it is safe, feasible, and has good adherence.