Activity wristbands may help men with severe hemophilia: Study

Use of physical activity trackers seen to improve patients' physical health

Patricia Inácio, PhD avatar

by Patricia Inácio, PhD |

Share this article:

Share article via email
A group of three people are seen running.

Men with severe hemophilia who wore activity wristbands to self-manage their physical activity saw significant improvements in their physical health and were capable of spending more time on moderate-intensity physical activity, a small study from Spain has found.

According to the researchers, these findings demonstrate that activity wristbands “can help healthcare professionals promote self-monitored physical activity” among hemophilia patients.

The study specifically looked at a Fitbit device commonly used to measure average daily step counts. While a tendency to overestimate the participants’ step counts was reported in previous studies evaluating Fitbit, the researchers found it to be accurate overall at measuring data over the one-year period.

According to the team, “the Fitbit tracker is … accurate enough to be used by … older adults to monitor step counts and provide feedback.”

The study, “Benefits of physical activity self-monitoring in patients with haemophilia: a prospective study with one-year follow-up,” was published in the journal Haemophilia.

Recommended Reading
A group of three people are seen running.

WHO physical activity goals unmet in many teens with hemophilia A

Tracking adherence to a 10K steps per day plan in men with severe hemophilia

Physical activity is associated with multiple benefits among hemophilia patients. Among them are increased muscle strength and flexibility, a reduction in the risk of bleeds, and improvements in joint health.

However, most studies of the impact of physical activity in people with hemophilia have been based on short-term follow-up periods.

Now-available physical activity tracking wristbands, such as the Fitbit wristband, allow patients to self-monitor their progress, which is believed to potentially boost exercise adherence.

Now, a team led by researchers at the University of Valencia conducted a yearlong observational study to assess the degree of compliance to physical activity recommendations in a group of men with severe hemophilia receiving routine preventive treatment.

“This study aimed to evaluate adherence to 10,000 steps/day in patients with severe haemophilia over a 1-year follow-up period using activity wristbands, as well as the effect of [physical activity] self-monitoring on quality of life, joint health, functionality, and muscle strength,” the team wrote.

Daily physical activity, specifically the number of steps taken, minutes spent on activity, and wear time, was recorded using a Fitbit wristband. Participants were encouraged to try to take 10,000 steps per day — corresponding to the 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity that are recommended for healthy older adults — and to track their progress.

Of 125 people with severe hemophilia treated in a public hospital in Valencia, 27 completed the one-year study follow-up and were included in the analysis.

At the start of the study, or baseline, participants showed a moderate level of joint damage, known as arthropathy, in the knees and ankles.

Altogether, 323.63 so-called valid days — those in which patients took more than 2,000 steps — were recorded during follow-up. In the first week, nearly 60% of the patients were active or highly active, while about 40% had low activity or were somewhat active.

The average number of steps taken per day at baseline was 10,899, and after one year it was 10,379. At baseline, 59% of the patients (16 in all) had achieved the goal of taking 10,000 steps per day. After one year, the proportion of patients attaining that same goal was similar, at 63% or 17 individuals.

Our results suggest that patients with severe haemophilia who self-managed their [physical activity] can improve their long-term quality of life in the domain of physical health and also the daily time spent in moderate-intensity [physical activity].

While there was no significant increase in the number of steps taken or in the proportion of participants achieving the goal of taking 10,000 steps per day, the time spent on daily moderate physical activity did increase over the course of the year (mean of 26.77 vs. 19.86 minutes per day).

The physical health parameter of the A36 Hemophilia quality of life questionnaire significantly improved during follow-up. Conversely, no significant improvements were seen in other domains, including daily activities, joint health, pain, satisfaction or difficulties with treatment, and emotional functioning or mental health.

During follow-up, only one patient reported bleeding in the ankle, as a result of an increase in the number of steps taken per day.

“Our results suggest that patients with severe haemophilia who self-managed their [physical activity] can improve their long-term quality of life in the domain of physical health and also the daily time spent in moderate-intensity [physical activity],” the researchers concluded.