Physical inactivity and sedentary behavior: Overlooked risk factors in autoimmune rheumatic diseases?

Autoimmun Rev. 2017 Jul;16(7):667-674. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2017.05.001. Epub 2017 May 4.


This review aims to (1) summarize the estimates of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior in autoimmune rheumatic diseases; (2) describe the relationship between physical (in)activity levels and disease-related outcomes; (3) contextualize the estimates and impact of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior in autoimmune diseases compared to other rheumatic diseases and chronic conditions; and (4) discuss scientific perspectives around this theme and potential clinical interventions to attenuate these preventable risk factors. We compiled evidence to show that estimates of physical inactivity and sedentary behavior in autoimmune rheumatic diseases are generally comparable to other rheumatic diseases as well as to other chronic conditions (e.g., type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity), in which a lack of physical activity and excess of sedentary behavior are well-known predictors of morbimortality. In addition, we also showed evidence that both physical inactivity and sedentary behavior may be associated with poor health-related outcomes (e.g., worse disease symptoms and low functionality) in autoimmune rheumatic diseases. Thus, putting into practice interventions to make the patients "sit less and move more", particularly light-intensity activities and/or breaking-up sedentary time, is a simple and prudent therapeutic approach to minimize physical inactivity and sedentary behavior, which are overlooked yet modifiable risk factors in the field of autoimmune rheumatic diseases.

Keywords: Exercise; Physical activity; Prolonged sitting; Rheumatoid arthritis; Systemic lupus erythematosus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Rheumatic Diseases / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior*