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Keywords:

  • Physical activity;
  • Exercise;
  • Internet;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Abstract

Objective

To compare the effectiveness of 2 Internet-based physical activity interventions for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods

A total of 160 physically inactive patients with RA who had a computer with Internet access were randomly assigned to an Internet-based physical activity program with individual guidance, a bicycle ergometer, and group contacts (individualized training [IT] group; n = 82) or to an Internet-based program providing only general information on exercises and physical activity (general training [GT] group; n = 78). Outcome measures included quantity of physical activity (questionnaire and activity monitor), functional ability, quality of life, and disease activity (baseline, 3, 6, 9, and 12 months).

Results

The proportion of physically active patients was significantly greater in the IT than in the GT group at 6 (38% versus 22%) and 9 months (35% versus 11%; both P < 0.05) regarding a moderate intensity level for 30 minutes in succession on at least 5 days a week, and at 6 (35% versus 13%), 9 (40% versus 14%), and 12 months (34% versus 10%; all P < 0.005) regarding a vigorous intensity level for 20 minutes in succession on at least 3 days a week. In general, there were no statistically significant differences regarding changes in physical activity as measured with an activity monitor, functional ability, quality of life, or disease activity.

Conclusion

An Internet-based physical activity intervention with individually tailored supervision, exercise equipment, and group contacts is more effective with respect to the proportion of patients who report meeting physical activity recommendations than an Internet-based program without these additional elements in patients with RA. No differences were found regarding the total amount of physical activity measured with an activity monitor.