Background & Purpose

Physical Activity Among Adults With Arthritis

Despite the documented benefits of physical activity, adults with arthritis have higher rates of physical inactivity than those without arthritis (Shih et al., 2003; CDC, 2011; Dunlop et al., 2011).  Based on the 2002 National Health Interview Survey, 45 percent of adults with arthritis are considered inactive (defined as less than 10 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week) as compared to 36 percent of adults without arthritis (Shih et al, 2003).  The highest rates of physical inactivity are among adults with arthritis and heart disease, arthritis and diabetes, and arthritis and obesity, when compared to adults with none of these conditions (CDC, 2008; CDC, 2009; CDC 2011a). 

Rates of physical inactivity among adults with arthritis also vary considerably by state. Inactive adults with arthritis make up a substantial proportion of all inactive adults in each state (CDC, 2011b).


                                       Prevalence of no leisure time physical activity among adults with arthritis

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State-specific prevalence of no leisure-time physical activity among adults with and without doctor-diagnosed arthritis — United States, 2009. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2011;60(48):1641-70.

Adhering to national physical activity guidelines is directly related to improved quality of life for adults with arthritis. However—

  • Only 8-13% of adults with arthritis meet physical activity recommendations when assessed using direct measurement by motion sensors (Dunlop et al, 2011).
  • These inactive individuals experience more days when they are physically or mentally unhealthy (1.14 and 1.12, respectively) than those who follow the physical activity guidelines (Austin, 2011).
To learn more:

Shamly Austin S, Qu H, Shewchuk RM. Association between adherence to physical activity guidelines and health-related quality of life among individuals with physician-diagnosed arthritis. Qual Life Res 2012;21: 1347–1357. DOI 10.1007/s11136-011-0046-x

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