Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise-Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases 2004; 63:1399-1405

Jong de Z, Munneke M, Zwinderman AH, et al. Long

Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients May Benefit From High-Intensity Exercise 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful joint disease characterized by inflammation and swelling of the lining of the joints, and can affect anyone at any age, including children.

Though a person living with RA may not feel inclined to exercise, a recent study has found that high-intensity exercise does not increase joint damage in RA patients, and may even be beneficial.

Researchers in the Netherlands compared 145 usual care (UC) physical therapy patients with 136 patients engaged in high-intensity weight-bearing exercises over a two-year period.

Study participants were evaluated for the rate of radiologic joint damage of the hands and feet. Disease activity, use of drugs, changes in physical capacity and bone mineral density (BMD), and participant attendance at exercise sessions were factors that had been determined could possibly affect the study outcome.


“Participation in a long-term, high intensity weight bearing exercise program comprising improvement in aerobic fitness and impact generating activities does not increase the rate of radiologic joint damage of the hands and feet in patients with RA,” the researchers noted. “On the contrary, it seems that these exercises have a protective effect for the joints of the feet.”


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