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“For years, people with rheumatoid arthritis experiencing fatigue have been told they should rest more. This research flies in the face of that advice. Resting more is probably the opposite of what they need to do.”
Improving physical activity could be an effective tool in decreasing fatigue associated with rheumatoid arthritis, according to a small study. Fatigue is universally associated with rheumatoid arthritis, as well as depression, poor sleep and obesity. Physical activity can mitigate these problems, meaning increased movement could positively impact rheumatoid arthritis-associated fatigue. In a presentation given on Nov. 11 at the 2015 ACR/ARHP annual meeting in San Francisco, Calif., Patricia Katz, MD, professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, discussed how increased walking is enough to be beneficial. At study’s end, participants experienced no increase in rheumatoid-arthritis activity, but they did see a marked decreased in tiredness. “For years, people with rheumatoid arthritis experiencing fatigue have been told they should rest more,” Katz said. “This research flies in the face of that advice. Resting more is probably the opposite of what they need to do.” Ninety-six participants were divided into three groups: (1) education-only (2) pedometer and (3) pedometer with step targets. Group 1 received only a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention booklet about incorporating exercise into daily routines. Group 2 monitored their steps, and Group 3 was challenged to increase their steps by 10 percent each week for 21 weeks. Both groups received phone call follow-ups at 10 weeks and 21 weeks. Overall, the median baseline step count was 3,710, fewer than 5,000 daily steps is considered sedentary. At the study’s end, Group 1 saw virtually no change in their number of steps, but experienced a 38 percent drop in fatigue. Group 2 increased their steps by 87 percent and decreased their fatigue 54 percent. Group 3 augmented their steps by 159 percent and saw their fatigue dip by 48 percent. The PROMIS Fatigue short-form was used to assess fatigue levels.
Funding came from the Rheumatology Research Foundation.
"A Randomized Controlled Trial for a Physical Activity Intervention for RA Fatigue," Patricia Katz, M.D., Nov. 11, 2015, 9:00 a.m.- 10:30 a.m., ACR 2015