Fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus: a randomized controlled trial of exercise

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2003 Sep;42(9):1050-4. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/keg289. Epub 2003 Apr 16.


Objective: To test the efficacy of a graded aerobic exercise programme in treating fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Methods: Ninety-three patients with systemic lupus erythematosus without active disease in any major organ were randomized, using a minimization protocol, to 12 weeks of graded exercise therapy, relaxation therapy or no intervention.

Results: Analysis by intention to treat showed that 16 of the 33 (49%) patients in the exercise group rated themselves as 'much' or 'very much' better compared with eight out of 29 (28%) in the relaxation group and five out of 32 (16%) in the control group (chi2=8.3, df=2, P=0.02). Fatigue improved significantly on one out of three measures after exercise therapy and there was a trend for fatigue to improve on all measures after exercise.

Conclusion: These findings support the use of appropriately prescribed graded aerobic exercise in the management of patients with fatigue and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / physiopathology
  • Fatigue / rehabilitation*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / complications*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Relaxation Therapy
  • Treatment Outcome