Effects of exercise on fatigue, aerobic fitness, and disease activity measures in persons with rheumatoid arthritis

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Abstract

The effects of 12 weeks of low-impact aerobic exercise on fatigue, aerobic fitness, and disease activity were examined in a quasi-experimental time series study of 25 adults with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Measures were obtained preintervention, midtreatment (after 6 weeks of exercise), end of treatment (after 12 weeks of exercise), and at a 15-week follow-up. ANOVAS for repeated measures showed that those subjects who participated more frequently reported decreased fatigue, while those who participated less frequently reported an increase in fatigue. All subjects, on average, showed increased aerobic fitness and increased right and left hand grip strength, decreased pain, and decreased walk time. There were no significant increases in joint count or sedimentation rate. Significant improvements in measures at the 15-week follow-up also were found. Findings indicate that persons with RA who participate in appropriate exercises may lessen fatigue levels and experience other positive effects without worsening their arthritis. © 1997 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Res Nurs Health 20: 195–204, 1997

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