Does regular exercise benefit rheumatic disease?

Rheumatic diseases are painful conditions, usually, caused by inflammation, swelling, and pain in the joints or muscles.

Some rheumatic diseases like osteoarthritis are the result of “wear and tear” to the joints. Other rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, happen when the immune system becomes hyperactive, the immune system attacks the linings of joints, causing joint pain, swelling, and destruction.

Chronic inflammation, swelling and pain in the joints characterize the more than 200 rheumatic diseases. Persistent inflammation over time can damage affected joints, but previous research has established that exercise can decrease joint inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.


Causes damage to the cartilage over time. Cartilage is a material that cushions the end of bones and allows joints to move smoothly.

These new research findings focused on the physiological changes created by exercise and their impact on inflammation. The researchers have found that exercise generates a true biological response and induces changes on a molecular level that stimulate anti-inflammatory effects.

The signs and symptoms of Osteoarthritis:

• Pain in the joint

• Joint swelling

• Joint may be warm to touch

• Joint stiffness

• Muscle weakness and joint instability

• Pain when walking

• Difficulty gripping objects

• Difficulty dressing or combing hair

• Difficulty sitting or bending over

As the inflammatory process in rheumatic diseases is a major cause of disability, we are excited to uncover the process by which exercise works on a molecular level to decrease this inflammation. Our results show the benefits that exercise could have in decreasing the great burden of rheumatic diseases. They also highlight the need for frequent exercise in order to create clinically significant results.