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Rheumatology (Oxford). 2003 Sep;42(9):1050-4. Epub 2003 Apr 16.

Fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus: a randomized controlled trial of exercise.

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  • 1National Sports Medicine Institute, The London NHS Trust, London, UK.



To test the efficacy of a graded aerobic exercise programme in treating fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus.


Ninety-three patients with systemic lupus erythematosus without active disease in any major organ were randomized, using a minimization protocol, to 12 weeks of graded exercise therapy, relaxation therapy or no intervention.


Analysis by intention to treat showed that 16 of the 33 (49%) patients in the exercise group rated themselves as 'much' or 'very much' better compared with eight out of 29 (28%) in the relaxation group and five out of 32 (16%) in the control group (chi2=8.3, df=2, P=0.02). Fatigue improved significantly on one out of three measures after exercise therapy and there was a trend for fatigue to improve on all measures after exercise.


These findings support the use of appropriately prescribed graded aerobic exercise in the management of patients with fatigue and systemic lupus erythematosus.

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