Effectiveness of resistance exercises in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis: A meta-analysis

Medicine (Baltimore). 2021 Apr 2;100(13):e25019. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000025019.


Background: We aimed to assess the efficacy of resistance exercise in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in randomized controlled trials (RCTs).

Method: PubMed, the Cochrane Library, and Embase were searched according to the index words to identify eligible RCTs, and relevant literature sources were also searched. The latest search was done in August 2019. Odds ratios (OR), mean difference (MD), and 95% confidence interval (95% CI) were used to analyze the main outcomes.

Result: Seventeen RCTs were included in the meta-analysis with 512 patients in the resistance exercise group and 498 patients in the control group. The results showed that compared with the control group, resistance exercise significantly decreased disease activity score in 28 joints (DAS-28) scores (standard mean difference [SMD]: -0.69, 95% CI: -1.26 to -0.11), reduced erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) (SMD: -0.86, 95% CI: -1.65 to -0.07), and shortened the time of 50 ft. walking (SMD: -0.64, 95% CI: -0.99 to -0.28). No significant difference was observed in visual analog scale (VAS) scores (SMD: -0.61, 95% CI: -1.49-0.27) and health assessment questionnaire (HAQ) scores (weighted mean difference: -0.10, 95% CI: -0.26-0.06).

Conclusion: Resistance exercise showed reducing DAS-28 score, ESR score, and the time of 50 ft. walking in RA patients compared with the control group. However, high quality multicenter RCTs with larger sample sizes to confirm the conclusion.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / physiopathology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Blood Sedimentation
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Resistance Training / methods*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking Speed