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Arthritis Rheum. 2004 Feb 15;51(1):56-62.

A home-based two-year strength training period in early rheumatoid arthritis led to good long-term compliance: a five-year followup.

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Central Finland Health Care District, Jyväskylä, Finland.



To evaluate the impact of a 2-year home-based strength-training program on physical function in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) after a subsequent 3-year followup.


Seventy patients with early RA were randomized to perform either strength training (experimental group [EG]) or range-of-motion exercises (control group [CG]). Maximal strength values were recorded by dynamometers. The Modified Disease Activity Score (DAS28), pain, Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), walking speed, and stair-climbing speed were also measured.


The maximum strength of assessed muscle groups increased by 19-59% in the EG during the training period and remained at the reached level throughout the subsequent 3 years. Muscle strength improved in the CG by 1-31%, but less compared with the EG. During the 2-year training period, DAS28 decreased by 50% and 45% and pain by 67% and 39% in the EG and CG, respectively. The differences in muscle strength, DAS28, and HAQ were significantly in favor of the EG both at the 2-year and 5-year followup assessments.


The improvements achieved during the 2-year strength-training period were sustained for 3 years in patients with early RA.

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