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IRD IA – Improve Muscle Strength

Improve Muscle strength by moving more:

Muscle wasting and reduced strength (up to 70%) are common in those with rheumatoid arthritis compared to controls[1]. They are also at risk of rheumatoid cachexia.  RCTs evaluating the effect of exercise interventions for those with rheumatoid arthritis have identified improvements in knee extensor isometric strength and grip strength, assessed using a dynamometer [2]. A combination of aerobic and muscle strengthening exercises are recommended routinely for those with rheumatoid arthritis [3].

Quality of evidence:

Grade A – high Quality

Strength of recommendation

Grade 1 – Strong Recommendation


Muscle strength is reduced in those with rheumatoid arthritis. There is a strong evidence base that physical activity and exercise interventions can help improve muscle strength.


  1. Walsmith J, Roubenoff R. Cachexia in rheumatoid arthritis. Int J Cardiol. 2002;85(1):89-99.
  2. Baillet A, Vaillant M, Guinot M, Juvin R, Gaudin P. Efficacy of resistance exercises in rheumatoid arthritis: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Rheumatology (Oxford). 2012;51(3):519-527.
  3. Hurkmans E, van der Giesen FJ, Vliet Vlieland TP, Schoones J, Van den Ende EC. Dynamic exercise programs (aerobic capacity and/or muscle strength training) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009(4):CD006853.