Department of Physical Therapy, School of Health Professions, Bouve College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, 6 Robinson Hall, Room 301C, 360 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115, USA ; Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA ; Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are twice as likely as their healthy peers to suffer from cardiovascular disease. RA is also a major cause of disability and reduced quality of life. Clinical trials of exercise and physical activity interventions demonstrate positive effects on muscle strength, function, aerobic capacity, mood and disability. While RA management guidelines emphasize the role of exercise and physical activity in the management of RA, the description of physical activity and exercise is vague and patients with RA remain less physically active than their healthy counterparts. This review discusses the benefits of physical activity and current physical activity recommendations in RA, describes measurement techniques to assess physical activity, and synthesizes the data from interventions to promote physical activity and improve health outcomes in adults with RA.