The effects of exercise on cardiovascular disease risk factors and cardiovascular physiology in rheumatoid arthritis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) morbidity and mortality is highly prevalent in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with debilitating effects for the individual as well as significant healthcare impact. Current evidence demonstrates that engaging in aerobic and resistance exercise (i.e. structured physical activity) can significantly improve patient-reported and clinical index-assessed outcomes in RA. In addition to this, engagement in exercise programmes improves, in a dose-dependent manner, the risk of developing CVD as well as CVD symptoms and outcomes. The present narrative review uses evidence from systematic reviews and meta-analyses as well as controlled trials, to synthesize the current state-of-the-art on the potential effects of aerobic and resistance exercise on CVD risk factors as well as on cardiac and vascular function and structure in people with RA. Where there is a lack of evidence in RA to explain potential mechanisms, relevant studies from the general population are also discussed and linked to RA.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-357
Number of pages11
JournalRheumatology International
Issue number3
Early online date4 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Autoimmune disease, Cardiovascular disease, Exercise, Inflammation, Non-communicable disease, Physical activity, Rehabilitation, Rheumatoid arthritis

Sustainable Development Goals