Background & Purpose

Recommended Physical Activity

Recommendations for the management of arthritis—from clinical treatment guidelines to A National Public Health Agenda for Osteoarthritishave included physical activity among the interventions proven effective for improving the lives of adults with arthritis (CDC, 2010; Zhang et al., 2009; Arthritis Foundation & CDC, 2010). Although adults with arthritis have disease-specific barriers to being physically active as well as high rates of comorbidities, physical activity is an important intervention that decreases pain, delays the onset of disability, improves physical functioning, mood and independence, and enhances quality of life, aerobic capacity, and muscle strength.

Evidence-based physical activity programs for adults with arthritis are available, and can improve the quality of life for adults with arthritis.[1]  The CDC Arthritis Program provides a list of recommended[2] and promising[3] evidence-based interventions that promote physical activity. The CDC Arthritis Program also offers criteria for determining if other interventions may be deemed “arthritis-appropriate.”[4]

Familiarize yourself with appropriate types and amounts of physical activity needed for adults with arthritis.

Recommended Physical Activity for Adults

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, preferably spread throughout the week.
  • Additional health benefits are provided by increasing to 5 hours (300 minutes) a week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity, or 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity physical activity, or an equivalent combination of both.
  • Muscle-strengthening activities that involve all major muscle groups performed on 2 or more days per week.

Special Considerations for People with Chronic Conditions (including Osteoarthritis)

  • Adults with chronic conditions obtain important health benefits from regular physical activity. When adults with chronic conditions do activity according to their abilities, physical activity is safe.
  • Adults with chronic conditions should be under the care of health-care providers. People with chronic conditions and symptoms should consult their health-care providers about the types and amounts of activity appropriate for them.
Source: Physical activity guidelines for Americans

For specific research findings on physical activity for people with osteoarthritis, see: The Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report

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