Exercise and inflammation

Best Pract Res Clin Rheumatol. 2020 Apr;34(2):101504. doi: 10.1016/j.berh.2020.101504. Epub 2020 Apr 2.


Based on current knowledge deriving from studies in animals and humans (the general population and patients with non-communicable diseases), there is biological plausibility that exercise may have anti-inflammatory effects. This may be particularly important for patients with chronic inflammatory rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases (RMDs). The present review discusses the current state-of-the-art on exercise and inflammation, explores how exercise can moderate inflammation-dependent RMD outcomes and the most prevalent systemic manifestations and addresses the relationship between the dosage (particularly the intensity) of exercise and inflammation. We conclude that present data support potential beneficial effects of exercise on inflammation, however, the evidence specifically in RMDs is limited and inconclusive. More targeted research is required to elucidate the effects of exercise on inflammation in the context of RMDs.

Keywords: Autoimmune disease; Cardiovascular disease; Exercise; Inflammation; Non-communicable disease; Physical activity; Rehabilitation; Rheumatoid arthritis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Inflammation
  • Musculoskeletal Diseases*
  • Rheumatic Diseases* / therapy