Physical Activity Implementation Guide
Boosting physical activity among adults with arthritis

Health Care

What Can You Do?

“The health care sector is our nation’s largest industry. It is comprised of all the people and physical resources devoted to providing health-related services to individuals. Traditionally, health care has focused on diagnosing and treating illness and injury. However, as knowledge of the causes of premature disability and death has advanced, the health care sector has increasingly emphasized early intervention and prevention. In their work with individual patients, health care providers have a unique opportunity to encourage adults, children, and families to increase their daily physical activity.”

A few tips

For health care providers and certified fitness professionals

  • Avoid thinking of arthritis as a normal part of aging.
  • Familiarize yourself with appropriate types and amounts of physical activity needed for adults with arthritis.
  • Try to address arthritis management routinely for patients with arthritis, even when it is not a patient’s primary reason for being seen on a particular visit. Most patients have some arthritis as a comorbidity but are not being treated unless they have pain in their knee, hip, or other joint.  After addressing their primary issue, say “I’m looking at your history and see that you have some arthritis. Let’s incorporate some physical activity into your treatment program, which will help you going forward with your primary diagnosis and . . . .”

For administrators and insurers

  • Consider ways to encourage physicians to recommend that their patients with arthritis visit local physical therapists or certified exercise professionals for an individualized physical activity plan.
  • Make it easy for physicians to recommend sources of physical activity to their patients by providing them with a list of local options or offering some of the courses in-house. Strive to identify and address potential barriers of cost, credibility, and convenience.
  • Convene roundtables of healthcare providers, health insurers, and public health practitioners joined by local YMCA and other fitness organizations to discuss collaborative strategies for connecting those living with arthritis to the evidence-based physical activity programs available in the communities. Increasing provider referrals to community-based programs and establishing health insurance coverage for program participation will be essential to the spread and sustainability of high quality arthritis interventions that lead to improved health outcomes and health care cost savings.
  • Encourage all staff within the medical office or practice to be a part of the process. No physician can do this alone. Support from management and staff can make a big difference.
  • Take advantage of word of mouth and success; they are your best marketing tools.
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