HealthDay News — Aerobic land-based exercise may be helpful in treating fatigue in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to a meta-analysis published in Arthritis Care & Research.

Sanne A.A. Rongen-van Dartel, from the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a literature review to identify randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with a supervised land-based aerobic exercise program (performed with an intensity between 50 and 90% of maximal heart rate) lasting at least 15 minutes and performed at least two times a week for at least four consecutive weeks.

The researchers found that none of the five included studies selected patients with RA for having fatigue. Three of the RCTs had low risk of bias, but bias was unclear in two. There was a positive effect of land-based aerobic exercise programs on fatigue in RA compared to no exercise at 12 weeks, but at 24 weeks, the effect was smaller and not statistically significant.

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“There is evidence with low risk of bias that an aerobic exercise program is effective in reducing fatigue among patients with RA, especially in the short term; however, effects are small,” the authors wrote. “To substantiate the evidence, RCTs should be performed in patients with RA selected for having fatigue.”


1. Rongen-van Dartel SAA, et al. Arthritis Care Res. 2015; doi: 10.1002/acr.22561.