Evidence on the effects of exercise in the treatment of patients with chronic diseases should be based on well designed randomized controlled trials. The most consistent finding of the meta-analyses summarized in this paper is that aerobic/functional capacity and muscle strength can be improved by exercise training among patients with different diseases without having detrimental effects on disease progression. This is important as with population aging exercise therapy may be an important means of reducing disability and increasing the number of older people living independently. Also, there is accumulating evidence that in patients with chronic disease exercise therapy is effective in improving the prognostic risk factor profile and in certain diseases in delaying mortality. In some diseases, such as osteoarthritis, pain symptoms may also be reduced. Severe complications during the exercise therapy programs were rare.
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