Rheumatoid arthritis can be helped if those with the condition follow a weight-training regime, researchers have found.
An Arthritis Research UK-funded study of 28 people found that those who regularly did weights developed better physical functioning, such as walking.
But although such intense exercise can be beneficial, alongside the normal drug treatments, not all patients would find the regime appropriate, the researchers at Bangor and Gwynedd Hospital pointed out – a less commonly known symptom of rheumatoid arthritis is massive loss of muscle strength.
Patients with rheumatoid arthritis are typically advised to do mild exercise at home to prevent stiffening of the joints.
The 28 study participants were divided into two groups: one group followed a weight training programme and the other followed a less intense home exercise regime, both for a total of 24 weeks, the Arthritis Care and Research journal reported.
Weight training was found to improve physical function by as much as 30% in some people, and strength increased by almost 120%. It was also seen to boost the amount of insulin-like growth as well as insulin-like growth-binding protein 3, which both help muscle, bone and cartilage growth.
Any benefits of the intense exercise were believed to have been lost between four and eight months after it finished.