Table 2

Summary of effects and recommendations of aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise in RA

Aerobic exercise in combination with muscle strengthening exercise (land)
Level of evidence: +++ (cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength), ++ (pain and activity limitation)
Aerobic exerciseMuscle strengthening exercise
Intensity*Duration (min/week)Frequency (times/week)Number of exercisesNumber of repetitions†SetsFrequency (times/week)
Moderate to high60–180 (30–60 min/occasion)2–58–108–1232–3
Aerobic exercise (land or water)
Evidence: +++ (cardiorespiratory fitness), ++ (pain and activity limitation)
Intensity*Duration (min/week)Frequency (times/week) 
Moderate to high90–180 (30–60 min/time)3 
Remember: Duration given above means effective time for exercise. The exercise should also include warm-up and cool-down parts. Intensity of exercise should increase gradually during the exercise session as well as during the exercise period. The exercise can very well be supervised by a physiotherapist.
  • *Moderate intensity: 40–59% maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), rate of perceived exertion (RPE) 12–13. High intensity: 60–89% VO2max, RPE 14–17.

  • †Eight to twelve repetitions means the maximum load to be lifted through the entire range of motion 8–12 times, for example, 8–12 RM (repetition maximum).

  • RA, rheumatoid arthritis.