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Journal of Aging Research
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 681640, 14 pages
Review Article

Benefits of Exercise in Rheumatoid Arthritis

1School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences, Bangor University, George Building, Holyhead Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2PZ, UK
2Department of Rheumatology, Llandudno Hospital, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, Llandudno, LL30 1LB, UK

Received 1 September 2010; Accepted 15 December 2010

Academic Editor: Ben Hurley

Copyright © 2011 Jennifer K. Cooney et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper aims to highlight the importance of exercise in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to demonstrate the multitude of beneficial effects that properly designed exercise training has in this population. RA is a chronic, systemic, autoimmune disease characterised by decrements to joint health including joint pain and inflammation, fatigue, increased incidence and progression of cardiovascular disease, and accelerated loss of muscle mass, that is, “rheumatoid cachexia”. These factors contribute to functional limitation, disability, comorbidities, and reduced quality of life. Exercise training for RA patients has been shown to be efficacious in reversing cachexia and substantially improving function without exacerbating disease activity and is likely to reduce cardiovascular risk. Thus, all RA patients should be encouraged to include aerobic and resistance exercise training as part of routine care. Understanding the perceptions of RA patients and health professionals to exercise is key to patients initiating and adhering to effective exercise training.