Exercise benefits people with rheumatoid arthritis

June 12th, 2009 - 2:58 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 12 (ANI): Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients, who go for supervised exercise programme, might experience beneficial effects on functional status and physical function, reduced need for daily corticosteroid and anti-inflammatory intake and improved levels of depression and anxiety, revealed a new study.

The researchers observed that a three-month programme, comprising moderate aerobic and strengthening exercises, conducted for 50-60 minutes three times per week, proved to be safe and beneficial both physically and in terms of quality of life for patients.

In addition, such a regime was also linked to a stabilising effect in disease activity measured by DASS-a self-reported assessment of negative emotional states.

During the Portuguese study’s three month period, the researchers observed a 33 percent improvement in the HAQ (Health Assessment Questionnaire) disability index measurement of physical functioning (assessing ability to undertake everyday activities such as dressing, eating and walking, and whether assistance from another person or disability aids is required).

There was also an improvement in physical function, while 62 percent patients reported a reduced need for daily corticosteroid intake.

Thirty-two percent of patients reported stopping concurrent NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) treatment altogether following the exercise programme.

Mean LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol also increased and there was a 40 percent improvement in the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS), with 28 percent in the depression and 48 percent in the anxiety component respectively.

“When joints are stiff and painful, proactively taking exercise might seem undesirable for people with RA. However, our study has demonstrated that regular and supervised moderate aerobic workouts and strengthening exercises may be extremely beneficial for both a patient’s physical and mental health, with a corresponding effect on quality of life. The challenge for physicians is to provide suitable motivation and reassurance to their RA patients in order that they initiate and stick with such a programme,” said Dr Miguel Sousa of Instituto Portugues de Rheumatology, Lisbon, Portugal, who led the study.

The study was presented at EULAR 2009, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Copenhagen, Denmark. (ANI)

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