About 40 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients don’t exercise at all, despite the fact that inactivity can worsen pain and other symptoms of the disease, new research shows.
Researchers at Northwestern University reported most inactive patients aren’t motivated to exercise or simply don’t know what kinds of activities will ease their symptoms, according to the study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
The study involved 176 arthritis patients - aged 23 to 86 years – who had the disease for an average of 13.5 years. Researchers tracked their activity levels – using a device that measures the intensity of physical exercise – for a one-week period.
What they found: Only 12 percent met the federal government’s recommended fitness guidelines of at least 150 minutes per week and about 2 in five of the participants didn’t engage in any exercise at all.
Rheumatoid arthritis strikes about 1.3 million adults, causing pain, and swollen and stiff joints. Sedentary lifestyles can worsen the pain sufferers feel.
The Northwestern researchers said the study suggests health-care professionals should spend more time encouraging arthritis patients to exercise and emphasizing the benefits.
“These results support development of interventions that increase motivation for physical activity,” they wrote.