Report: Arthritis Patients Exercise Efforts Often Impeded

A new report from the Arthritis Foundation recommends that people with arthritis stay active – and goes on to identify ways that key sectors can support that goal.

The report -- Environmental and Policy Strategies to Increase Physical Activity Among Adults With Arthritis – notes that 50 million adults in the United States have arthritis, making it the number one cause of disability in the country.

“The burden of arthritis is staggering, both for our economy and in terms of the physical and emotional toll it takes on individuals with the disease,” said Susan Carter, CEO of the Arthritis Foundation, south central region. “Because physical activity can help individuals with arthritis manage the condition, it is important that our communities take steps to make it more accessible.”

Despite the positive impact that physical activity can have, many people with arthritis face social, physical, psychological and environmental barriers that make exercise and activity tough, the report says.

Pain and fatigue – or the fear of them -- can make it physically or psychologically uncomfortable to be active, the report notes. A lack of support from family and friends can be a social barrier to becoming more active, or family or job responsibilities may make it difficult to find the time to exercise. People with arthritis who want to be more active might encounter environmental barriers: no sidewalks or safe places to walk, for example, or no transportation to a park or recreation center where exercise can safely take place.

The report also identified six “influential sectors” that could help to encourage active lifestyles and help to sustain physical activities for people with arthritis.

The community & public health sector, for instance, includes national, state and local public health agencies, non-profit organizations and faith-based organizations. These groups could “promote physical activity among their constituencies in a way that is safe and effective.”

The media, the report says, can spread the word on the benefits of physical activity and promote public discussions. The business & industry can provide employees with access to fitness facilities and activities. Healthcare professionals can encourage activity levels in the patients they work with. And the transportation, land use and community design sector can “address transportation, development patterns, public spaces, public works and community design and planning issues.”

To access the report, visit the Arthritis Foundation online.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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