Background Today, more than 50% of persons with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are over 65 years of age (1). Little is known about the effects of physical exercise in this age group (>65 years).
Objectives The aim of this randomized controlled study is to investigate the effects of a person-centred progressive aerobic and resistance exercise program, led by a physiotherapist.
Methods Seventy-four with persons with RA (24% men), mean age 70 years (SD 2.5), were recruited and randomized to an exercise interventions group or an active control group. The intervention consisted of a 20-week individual person-centered exercise program, performed three times a week with guidance from a physiotherapist. Both aerobic and resistance exercise was performed on a high intensity level. The control group followed a home exercise program twice a week. Muscle strength and endurance were assessed by the Chair Stands test, the Timed up and Go and a Bicycle endurance test. Maximal aerobic capacity (VO2 max) was assessed with ergo spirometry. Activity limitations were assessed by SF36 Physical subscale and the Health Assessment Questionnaire (HAQ).
Results All participants in the intervention group completed the intervention. The participants had a low disease activity with a mean Clinical Disease Activity Index of 5.4 (SD 3.9). Significant improvements were found for VO2 max, the Chair Stands test, the Timed up and Go, the Bicycle endurance test on bicycle (p<0,001) and the SF36 physical (p=0.018) in the intervention group, when compared to the controls. No significant differences between groups were seen on HAQ.
Conclusions Intensive progressive aerobic and resistance exercise is a feasible intervention for elderly persons with RA. Despite old age and RA the participants gained significant improvements in physical capacity.
Eriksson JK, Neovius M, Ernestam S, Lindblad S, Simard JF, Askling J. Incidence of rheumatoid arthritis in Sweden: a nationwide population-based assessment of incidence, its determinants, and treatment penetration. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2013;65(6):870–8.
Disclosure of Interest None declared