Rheumatoid Arthritis and Exercise

This recent study1 examined the effects of an 8-week dance-based exercise program in a group of 10 women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA, Class III). Previous research by the same authors had found that the EDUCIZE program, developed by arthritis researchers,2 was helpful for patients with Class I and II RA. The subjects in this study had a mean age of 54 years.

Both before and after the 8-week program, all participants were carefully evaluated in regard to health status, use of medications, joint pain and swelling, cardiorespiratory fitness, daily activity, and psychological status.

The researchers found that while there was no significant increase in aerobic power, there were other benefits. Social activity increased, and depression, anxiety, anger, and tension decreased after the experimental period. "Many of [the patients] reported significant improvements in stability, improved mobility, and a decrease in pain and stiffness."

Most importantly, no aggravation of joint pain or swelling was found in the participants.

  1. Noreau L, Moffet H, Drolet M, Parent E. Dance-based exercise program in rheumatoid arthritis. American Journal of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 1997;76(2):109-113.
  2. Perlman SG, Connell K, Clark A, et al. Dance-based aerobic exercise for rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Care Research 1990;3:29-35.