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IRD AS – Improves lung function

Improving lung function 

Evidence summary

Restrictive pulmonary function is more prevalent in people with ankylosing spondylitis[1]. A recent systematic review (included 3 published RCTs and 5 controlled trials) on the effectiveness of different exercise types on cardiopulmonary function showed improvements on pulmonary capacity with multiple interventions[2]. These included global posture retraining, inspiratory muscle training, swimming and walking. The majority of trials showed improvement in outcome scores, specifically spirometry measurements and chest expansion[2]. The recommended best approach was found to be specific pulmonary respiratory muscle training exercises in combination with physical activity.

Quality of evidence

Moderate quality

Strength of recommendation



Keeping active and performing regular exercise has been shown to improve pulmonary capacity for people with ankylosing spondylitis. The best approach may be to consider specific pulmonary respiratory muscle training exercises  in combination with physical activity.


  1. Berdal G, Halvorsen S, van der Heijde D, Mowe M, Dagfinrud H. Restrictive pulmonary function is more prevalent in patients with ankylosing spondylitis than in matched population controls and is associated with impaired spinal mobility: a comparative study. Arthritis Res Ther. 2012;14(1):R1
  2. Saracoglu I, Kurt G, Okur EO, et al. The effectiveness of specific exercise types on cardiopulmonary functions in patients with ankylosing spondylitis: a systematic review. Rheumatol Int. 2017;37(3):409-421.


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