Adaptive physical activity and back pain: A non-randomised community-based intervention trial

F. Sofi, R. Molino Lova, V. Nucida, A. Taviani, F. Benvenuti, M. Stuart, M. Weinrich, F. Cecchi, R. Abbate, G. F. Gensini, C. Macchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background. Back pain is a significant problem due to the high healthcare utilization, rising costs of care and low effectiveness of many current treatments. Aim. Aim of this study was to determine the effects of a community-based Adapted Physical Activity (APA) program focused on chronic, non-specific back pain. Design. Open-label intervention study. Setting. Community. Population. All patients admitted to Empoli Rehabilitation Department for non-specific back pain for at least three months, were considered for APA. Exclusion criteria were: "red flags", difficulty/disability in basic daily living activities, severe/acute medical conditions, acute pain, psychiatric disease or cognitive impairment, severe visuoauditory deficit. Overall, 650 persons were enrolled. Methods. The APA program, including strength and flexibility training and exercises for improving posture was delivered for 12 months, with 1-hour group classes three times per week. Results. Overall 261 (40.2%) subjects completed the 12-month APA program and were compared to the 310 (47.7%) who were screened but failed to initiate or complete the study. There were no significant differences in baseline demographic and clinical characteristics between groups. Patients who followed the APA program reported significantly improved health status and significant back pain improvement, compared with those who did not adhere to the program. In the logistic regression analysis adjusted for age and gender, a distance from home to gymnasium greater than the median for the study population (2.6 km) was the only baseline characteristic significantly associated with an increased risk of non-adherence (OR 1.44, 95%CI 1.01-2.13; P=0.04). Conclusion. This study suggests that a communitybased APA program can improve back pain and health status in persons with chronic, non-specific low back pain. Clinical rehabilitation impact. These findings highlight the potential for new approaches to manage chronic disease and disability by facilitating a healthy lifestyle and promoting physical activity through implementation of community-based exercise programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-549
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


  • Back pain -
  • Exercise
  • Motor activity -

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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