The influence of sporting activities performed using joint protective measures on deterioration in hand and lower extremity function was evaluated over 8 years in 62 patients with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA). Sporting activities usually recommended to patients with JRA, such as cycling and swimming, did not negatively influence hand or lower extremity function as compared to a control group of patients not taking part in sporting activities. Besides cycling and swimming, other sporting activities were only performed by a minority of patients (less than 10%). Decreases in total joint scores of both the hands and lower extremities, showed significant correlations with disease duration in patients taking part and in patients not taking part in sporting activities. Polyarticular onset of disease was associated with higher total joint scores of the hands as compared to pauciarticular onset of disease. In lower extremity function, no difference was found between patients with polyarticular onset and patients with pauciarticular onset. Disease duration of longer than 10 years, accompanied by severe functional deterioration, was followed by low participation in sporting activities. Therefore, we suggest that appropriate sporting activities, such as cycling and swimming, can be advised to patients with JRA regardless of disease duration, since no negative effects were observed in our study over a period of 8 years.