WEDNESDAY, June 30 (HealthDay News) -- Cardiorespiratory aerobic exercise is safe for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and leads to improved function and quality of life, though its effect is small, according to a meta-analysis published in the July issue of Arthritis Care & Research.
Athan Baillet, of the University of Grenoble Medical School in France, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of studies involving RA patients and the impact of aerobic exercise. In the 14 reviewed studies, 510 patients were included in intervention groups and 530 patients were controls. Outcomes studied included health-related quality of life (HRQL), the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ), affected joint counts, and visual analog scale (VAS) pain measures.
The researchers found that cardiorespiratory exercise resulted in small but significant improvements in HRQL, HAQ scores, and pain VAS. Joint count, global compliance, and the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints were similar in the intervention and control groups, suggesting that exercise was safe in the RA patients.
"RA patients are dramatically physically inactive. This systematic review supports a more frequent recommendation of exercise to RA patients," the authors write.
Abbott France provided an unrestricted educational grant for the study.