THURSDAY, Jan. 26 (HealthDay News) -- More than 40 percent of rheumatoid arthritis patients live a sedentary life, a new study finds.
It used to be thought that medication and rest was the best treatment, but now experts believe physical activity is important to keep joints flexible, improve balance and strength and reduce pain, the researchers noted.
"Our results suggest that public health initiatives need to address the lack of motivation to exercise and to promote the benefits of physical activity to reduce the prevalence of inactivity in those with rheumatoid arthritis," said lead researcher Jungwha Lee, an assistant professor in the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
Physical inactivity among these patients is a public health concern, Lee said.
"Enhancing strong motivation for physical activity and strong beliefs in the benefits of physical activity may help rheumatoid arthritis patients to be more physically active," she said.
The report was published in the Jan. 26 online edition of Arthritis Care & Research.
For the study, Lee's team collected data on 176 patients with rheumatoid arthritis aged 18 and older who took part in a trial assessing the effectiveness of physical activity.
In addition, they looked at the relationship between inactivity and risk factors such as obesity and pain, and also the motivation for physical activity.
They found that 42 percent of the patients were inactive. These people didn't participate in the moderate-to-vigorous physical activity program in the trial, which consisted of periods of activity at least 10 minutes during the week.
Moderate physical activity is equivalent to brisk walking, Lee said.
Moreover, 53 percent of the patients weren't motivated to do physical activity and 49 percent didn't think exercise would
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