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Effects of aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise in adults with rheumatoid arthritis: a narrative review summarising a chapter in Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of disease (FYSS 2016)
  1. E Swärdh1,2,
  2. N Brodin1,3
  1. 1Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, Huddinge, Sweden
  2. 2Department of Physiotherapy, Karolinska University Hospital, Huddinge, Sweden
  3. 3Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Orthopaedics, Danderyd Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nina Brodin, Division of Physiotherapy, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society, Karolinska Institutet, 23100, Huddinge 14183, Sweden; nina.brodin{at}ki.se

Abstract

Background Besides pharmacological treatment, regular exercise is one of the cornerstones of care in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In many of the earlier studies of exercise in RA, the intensity of the exercise did not reach the current recommendations or is not described in satisfactory detail. This narrative review is based on randomised controlled trials with a detailed description of the exercise type, frequency, duration and intensity.

Results There is moderate-quality evidence that short-term land-based aerobic exercise of moderate to high intensity augments oxygen uptake but does not improve muscle strength. Short-term water-based aerobic exercise of moderate to high intensity augments oxygen uptake; short term land-based aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise of moderate to high intensity augments oxygen uptake and muscle strength. Long-term land-based aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise of moderate to high intensity reduces activity limitations and improves both oxygen uptake and muscle strength.

Conclusions Clinicians should recommend that patients with RA participate in various types of exercise.

  • Aerobic fitness
  • Exercise
  • Physical activity
  • Rehabilitation

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