Send to

Choose Destination
Arthritis Rheum. 1996 Mar;39(3):415-26.

The effect of progressive resistance training in rheumatoid arthritis. Increased strength without changes in energy balance or body composition.

Author information

USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts, 02111, USA.



To demonstrate the feasibility of high-intensity progressive resistance training in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients compared with healthy control subjects.


Eight subjects with RA, 8 healthy young subjects, and 8 healthy elderly subjects underwent 12 weeks of high-intensity progressive resistance training, while 6 elderly subjects performed warm-up exercises only. Fitness, body composition, energy expenditure, function, disease activity, pain, and fatigue were measured at baseline and followup.


All 3 training groups demonstrated similar improvements in strength compared with the change among control subjects (RA group 57% [P < 0.0005], young exercise group 44% [P < 0.01], elderly exercise group 36% [P < 0.05]). Subjects with RA had no change in the number of painful or swollen joints but had significant reductions in self-reported pain score (21% [P < 0.05]) and fatigue score (38% [P = 0.06]), improved 50-foot walking times (mean +/- SD 10.4 +/- 2.2 seconds versus 8.3 +/- 1.5 seconds [P < 0.005]), and improved balance and gait scores (48.9 +/- 3.8 versus 50.4+/- 2.0 [P = 0.07]).


High-intensity strength training is feasible and safe in selected patients with well-controlled RA and leads to significant improvements in strength, pain, and fatigue without exacerbating disease activity or joint pain.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center