Skip to main content

by Dr. C.H. Weaver M.D. 9/1/2018

According to a review of previous clinical trials, physical activity reduces fatigue among people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These results were published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

Fatigue is a common problem among people with RA, and can interfere with daily activities. There is currently no standard approach to managing this problem, but studies have evaluated several different non-drug approaches. In addition to physical activity, these approaches include psychosocial interventions, herbal medicine, dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids, consumption of a Mediterranean diet, and reflexology.

To evaluate the available evidence about these approaches, researchers collected information from a total of 24 randomized, controlled trials. These studies included 2,882 people with RA.

  • Physical activity and psychosocial interventions each reduced fatigue, with physical activity having a larger effect. On a 100-point scale (with lower scores indicating less fatigue), physical activity reduced fatigue by an average of 14.4 points and psychosocial interventions reduced fatigue by an average of 9.6 points.
  • Thus far, there is no clear evidence of a benefit from the other interventions that were evaluated.
Scroll to Continue


Exercises You Can Do With Inflammatory Arthritis

Managing Fatigue

These results suggest that physical activity and psychosocial interventions reduce fatigue among people with RA. If you have RA, you may wish to talk with your rheumatologist about which types of physical activity are most likely to be safe and beneficial.


Cramp F, Hewlett S, Almeida C et al. Non-pharmacological interventions for fatigue in rheumatoid arthritis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Early online publication August 23, 2013.