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Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2003 Nov;15(6):679-90.

Physical activity and disablement in the idiopathic inflammatory myopathies.

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  • 1Rehabilitation Medicine Department, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.



The sequelae associated with idiopathic inflammatory myopathy (IIM) often result in disability and decreased quality of life. Our understanding of how exercise mitigates disability may be facilitated through the use of a conceptual model. This review describes the enablement-disablement model applied to myositis and explores the role of physical activity in the enablement process.


National and international organizations have revised their disablement models by acknowledging disability as a relational concept, refining the relationship of disability to quality of life, and incorporating the role of intervention through the enablement process. Disability associated with IIM may be complicated by aging-related comorbidities and decreased physical activity. However, data indicate that both short-term and long-term aerobic training results in improved aerobic capacity and decreased disability in adults with IIM. Strengthening regimens have also resulted in decreased functional limitations and disability for adults with polymyositis and dermatomyositis. While comprehensive exercise programs have not been shown to exacerbate disease activity or damage in people with IIM, their effectiveness for individuals with inclusion body myositis (IBM) remains uncertain.


Physical activity constitutes a valuable enablement strategy that can reduce disability in adults with IIM. Use of the disablement-enablement model and ICF taxonomy in conjunction with outcomes across disablement domains may augment further investigation of the effectiveness of exercise interventions. Additional research is needed to better understand the relationship between disease severity and optimal exercise dosage, the effects of long-term exercise in children with IIM, and the physiologic response to exercise in people with IBM.

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