Research News Flash
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune inflammatory disorder that affects the lining of the joints, typically in the hands and feet, causing a painful swelling that can eventually result in bone erosion and joint deformity. The joint pain and other factors associated with RA commonly result in fatigue and poor sleep quality. Given the demonstrated benefits of exercise for a variety of populations, the purpose of this study was to examine the effect of a home-based exercise intervention on sleep quality and fatigue of people with RA.
Participants were randomized into an exercise group (n = 40) or a control group (n = 38). Participants in the exercise group completed a 12-week individualized program three times per week that consisted of strengthening, stretching and walking activities. The control group received standard care and information regarding the benefits of exercise in RA. Participants underwent a medical assessment and completed a series of self-report surveys at baseline and at 12 weeks that included measures of functional limitation, pain, stiffness, sleep quality, fatigue, and perceived benefits and barriers to exercise. Those in the exercise group were also evaluated at three-week increments.
Significant improvements were seen for all measures in the exercise group. The results of this study demonstrate that a 12-week individualized home exercise program can produce significant and clinically important improvements in fatigue and sleep quality in persons with rheumatoid arthritis.
Durcan, L., Wilson, F., & Cunnane G. (2014). The effect of exercise on sleep and fatigue in
rheumatoid arthritis: A randomized controlled study. Journal of Rheumatology, 2014 Aug 15. pii: jrheum.131282. [Epub ahead of print].