Objective: To compare the effectiveness and safety of supervised aerobic exercise and home aerobic exercise in female Chinese patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Design: Single-blind randomized controlled trial. Subjects: Thirty female Chinese patients with rheumatoid arthritis were assigned to either supervised aerobic exercise or home aerobic exercise groups. Methods: The supervised aerobic exercise programme was supervised by a physical therapist, while the home aerobic exercise programme was performed at home after one session of exercise instruction. Each programme consisted of 1 h of aerobic exercise conducted 3 times per week for 8 weeks. Aerobic capacity and disease-related variables, including pain intensity, functional ability, psychological status and joint function, were measured. Results: Significant difference in changed score between pre-and post-exercise data was observed between the supervised aerobic exercise and home aerobic exercise groups regarding aerobic capacity (p<0.0001). Pre- and post-exercise within-group comparisons showed significant improvement (20%) in aerobic capacity only in the supervised aerobic exercise group. Pre- and post-exercise within-group comparison showed significant improvement in 5 and 3 items of disease-related variables in supervised aerobic exercise and home aerobic exercise groups, respectively. Conclusion: An 8-week supervised aerobic exercise programme induced significant improvement in the aerobic capacity of female Chinese patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and was superior to a home aerobic exercise programme. Both programmes of aerobic exercise were safe for female Chinese patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
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