Rheumatoid arthritis could be helped by regular weight training sessions, according to a new study.
Research carried out at Bangor and Gwynedd Hospital on behalf on the charity Arthritis Research UK, found that those who did regular weight sessions experienced improvements in basic physical function such as walking.
The scientists said that while the exercise regime may not be appropriate for all patients, it could prove effective for some alongside regular drug treatments.
The disease mainly affects the joints, although one of the symptoms is a severely reduced muscle mass and strength.
According to the experts, this can occur even for patients whose cases are being well managed.
Normally, people suffering with rheumatoid arthritis are given mild exercises to go at home, with the aim of preventing pain and stopping joints from becoming stiff.
In the study, which was reported in the Arthritis Care and Research journal, the 28 patients who took part were split into two groups and given different training regimes.
The first group was told to go regular weight lifting for a period of 24 weeks, while the second group was ordered to complete a less strenuous exercise regime over the same period of time.
The researchers found that those in the group who did regular weight sessions increased their strength by 120%, and the physical function improved by between 20% and 30%.
It was also found that the regular fitness regime increased the amount of insulin-like growth factor (1GF-1) and insulin-like growth binding protein 3.
Both of these are important factors in the growth of muscles, bone and cartilage.
But the survey found that the benefits of the training were lost within four to eight months of ending the regular sessions.
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