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Keywords:

  • Aerobic capacity;
  • Muscle strength;
  • Endurance

Abstract

Objective

To investigate the effects of a 21-week concurrent strength and endurance training protocol on physical fitness profile in women with early or longstanding rheumatoid arthritis (RA) compared with healthy subjects.

Methods

Twenty-three female patients with RA volunteered for the study. Twelve had early RA and eleven had longstanding RA. Twelve healthy women served as controls. Maximal strength of different muscle groups was measured by dynamometers, walking speed with light cells, and vertical squat jump on the force platform to mirror explosive force. Maximal oxygen uptake was measured by gas analyzer. Six training sessions (3 strength training and 3 endurance training) were carried out in a 2-week period for 21 weeks.

Results

The training led to large gains in maximal strength both in women with RA and in healthy women (P < 0.043–0.001). The strength gains were accompanied by increases in walking speed (P < 0.034–0.001) and vertical squat jump (P < 0.034–0.001). Significant improvements also occurred in maximal aerobic capacity in all groups (P < 0.023–0.014).

Conclusions

Both early and longstanding RA patients with stable disease can safely improve all characteristics of their physical fitness profile using a progressive concurrent strength and endurance training protocol.