Beat Down RA with Self-Motivation

Rheumatoid arthritis patients more likely to reach physical activity goals

(RxWiki News) One of the hardest parts about exercising is getting motivated to do it in the first place. Believing in yourself may be one key to reaching your exercise goals and lowering arthritis pain.

Rheumatoid arthritis patients who have higher levels of self-efficacy (the belief in one's ability to do a certain behavior) are more likely to reach their physical activity goals. Reaching these goals is linked to less arthritis pain and a higher health-related quality of life - a broad concept that involves self-reported measures of physical and mental health.

"Have confidence in your ability to exercise."

When people with rheumatoid arthritis do not get enough exercise, their disease can become even more painful. So, how can these patients reach their exercise goals and lower their pain?

Keegan Knittle, M.Sc., from Leiden Univerisity in The Netherlands, and colleagues found that patients with higher levels of self-efficacy had a better chance of reaching their goals, a result that supports past research. By reaching their exercise goals, these patients had less pain and a higher quality of life.

According to Knittle, these findings suggest that health care professionals need to focus more on increasing arthritis patients' self-efficacy, setting realistic goals for these patients, and creating ways to increase the likelihood that patients will reach their physical activity goals. Making it easier for arthritis patients to achieve their goals will help doctors and researchers to come up with new ways to lower pain and improve the quality of life for rheumatoid arthritis patients.

"The positive results from setting aggressive but manageable goals are profound," says fitness expert James Crowell. "When my athletes take the time to think about their short and long term goals, they gain a level of focus which helps them make much faster progress than those who do not know where they want to go. I have seen many athletes overcome nagging injuries and pain by simply setting smaller and then progressively larger goals from themselves." The same can apply to anyone, including arthritis patients, who needs to get exercising.

For their study, Knittle and colleagues surveyed 106 rheumatoid arthritis patients. The researchers studied patients' physical activity levels, their motivation and self-efficacy for physical activity, their amount of arthritis pain, and their quality of life. At the end of six months, the participants were asked to what degree they reached their goals.

The researchers found that three quarters of the study's participants rated their physical activity goal achievement at 50 percent or more. The higher a patient's level of self-efficacy, the more likely that patient was to reach their exercise goal.

The study appears in Arthritis Care & Research.

Review Date: 
August 25, 2011