The Effect of Progressive Resistance Training in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Increased Strength Without Changes in Energy Balance or Body Composition

By Ty Sevin, Aug 30, 2021

< Back to Benefits of Strength Training on Chronic Conditions in Older Adults

Lara C. Rall, Si min Nikbin Meydani, Joseph J. Kehayias, Bess Dawson-Hughes, and Ronenn Roubenoff. Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston, MA; and Tupper Research Institute, New England Medical Center, Boston, MA.


Eight subjects with rheumatoid arthritis (aged 25-65 years), 8 healthy young subjects (aged 22-30 years), and 8 healthy elderly subjects (aged 54-80 years) underwent 12 weeks of high intensity strength training. Six additional elderly subjects, aged 54-80 performed warm-up exercises only as a control group. Fitness, body composition, energy expenditure, function, disease activity, pain, and fatigue were measured at the beginning and at the end of the 12 weeks.


All 3 training groups demonstrated similar improvements in strength compared with the change among control subjects. Subjects with rheumatoid arthritis had no change in the number of painful or swollen joints but had significant reductions in the self-reported pain score and fatigue score. They also improved their strength by 57%, improved 50-foot walking time, and improved balance and gait scores. The young exercise group increased strength by 44% and the elderly exercise group increased strength by 38%.


High-intensity strength training is feasible and safe in selected patients with well-controlled rheumatoid arthritis. It leads to significant improvements in strength, and reduction of pain & fatigue without aggravating disease activity or joint pain. Strength training can also play an important role in preventing the decline of lean body mass common among patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Programmers who have been reluctant to provide strength training opportunities for older adults with rheumatoid arthritis due to fear of injury, can carefully proceed with strength training through the pain free range of motion of arthritic joints.

Keiser Equipment Used

Chest press, leg press, leg extension, lower back, and abdominal.

Published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, Vol. 39, No.3, March 1996

Link to Original Article

About the author

Ty Sevin

Director of Human Performance, Education and Research

Articles by Ty Sevin >

With over 25 years of coaching experience at both the collegiate and Olympic levels, Ty Sevin is one of the most influential track and field coaches in the country. Ty has worked for the United States Olympic Committee, serving as the Director of the Track and Field Residency Program at the USOC Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. He has also served as an assistant coach for Team USA on three separate occasions, for both the men’s and women’s teams. Ty himself was a four-time U.S. Olympics Trials qualifier in javelin. Ty most recently spent four years as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Texas at Austin for both the men’s and women’s track and field teams. Prior to that, he led the men’s and women’s track and cross-country teams at the University of New Orleans and McNeese State.

Currently, Ty applies his vast industry experience to the role of Director of Human Performance, Research and Education for Keiser Corporation, where he consults with college and professional sports teams regarding the utilization of Keiser strength equipment. He is also responsible for creating educational curriculum relating to human performance and overseeing Keiser research projects