Arthritis patients not getting enough exercise

The Los Angeles Times “Booster Shots” blog reports, “Regular exercise can be beneficial to people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but a study finds that two out of five people with the disease may not be active at all.”

Researchers had 176 adult patients “wear accelerometers for a week” and found that “about 42% of the participants were deemed inactive, not doing any 10-minute stints of moderate to vigorous exercise during those seven days. The average amount of light activity done was 478 minutes per day, and the average amount of moderate to vigorous activity was 19 minutes per day.”

The study was published in Arthritis Care & Research.

WebMD adds, “However, the study’s primary finding – the reasons for the lack of exercise – Is potentially positive. … Of the risk factors” for inactivity that were “measured, two stood out: a lack of motivation to exercise, and a lack of awareness that exercise can protect joints and ease pain. In other words, for most RA patients, the only thing standing in the way of working out — and thereby improving their health — may be attitude.”

MedPage Today adds, “Pain, obesity, and poor mental health as risk factors for inactivity did not reach significance.”

However, researchers “cautioned that the characteristics of people volunteering for a clinical trial might differ from those of the general patient population” and noted that “the study excluded people with a body mass index greater than 35, which might account for the lack of effect of obesity on the risk of inactivity.”

In addition, “accelerometers don’t provide qualitative data on what sort of activity they are recording – data that might be useful in designing future interventions.”

The study was funded by the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases.

HealthDay reports that rheumatologist Dr. Waseem Mir “noted that exercise for these patients is important not only to maintain flexibility and strength, but because they are already at an increased risk for heart disease.”

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