Exercise effects in patients with adult idiopathic inflammatory myopathies

Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2009 Mar;21(2):158-63. doi: 10.1097/BOR.0b013e328324e700.


Purpose of review: To give an update on recent findings on effects of exercise in patients with adult inflammatory myopathies.

Recent findings: Although responding to treatment, a majority of patients with polymyositis and dermatomyositis develop sustained disability. The reason for this is not clear. However, a recent study further supports the hypothesis of hypoxia in muscle tissue as a contributor to muscle weakness. The percentage of type I oxygen-dependent muscle fibers increased after a 12-week submaximal home exercise program along with improved muscle endurance in patients with chronic polymyositis or dermatomyositis. Creatine supplements in addition to the same home exercise program are more beneficial than exercise alone in patients with chronic polymyositis or dermatomyositis. Patients with chronic disease tolerate intensive resistance training resulting in improved muscle strength and muscle endurance. This 7-week exercise study also reported reduced disease activity and possibly even reduced muscle inflammation.

Summary: These recent studies are in line with earlier ones further supporting safety and efficacy of exercise in patients with polymyositis or dermatomyositis. There is an urgent need for larger randomized controlled trials also including patients with inclusion body myositis to further increase knowledge of disease mechanisms causing disability, exercise effects, and what exercise program is most efficient in patients with different entities of idiopathic inflammatory myopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Creatine / therapeutic use
  • Dermatomyositis / rehabilitation
  • Exercise Therapy*
  • Humans
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle Strength
  • Myositis / drug therapy
  • Myositis / physiopathology
  • Myositis / rehabilitation*
  • Myositis, Inclusion Body / rehabilitation
  • Physical Endurance
  • Polymyositis / rehabilitation
  • Resistance Training


  • Creatine