Strategies and Tools
Include at least one evidence-based arthritis-appropriate physical activity intervention in your schedule of exercise programs.
Six physical activity programs have been proven to enhance the symptoms, function, and quality of life of adults with arthritis. All meet stringent criteria and have been evaluated. In addition, CDC has developed a guidance document to help select the appropriate interventions for your situation.
Provide literature on arthritis and physical activity in all park, recreation, fitness, and sport facilities.
Good brochures and pamphlets can help spread the word about the importance of physical activity for adults with arthritis, the benefits of that activity, and available resources in the community for services and support. Such material should be positioned strategically, in locations that are highly trafficked by regular patrons—near the front check-in desk, in locker rooms, or beside a main exit.
In fitness and sports facilities, offer more low-impact and low-intensity exercise equipment for older adults and individuals with arthritis and disabilities.
When purchasing equipment and designing exercise space, health clubs and other recreational facilities should take into account the accessibility needs for persons with arthritis, limited mobility, and/or disabilities. The built environment (facility layout and structure, as well as interior design), supplemented with supportive internal policies and professional behavior (attitudes and knowledge), can make a major difference in facilitating use.
To learn more
Accessibility of health clubs for people with mobility disabilities and visual impairments. Am J Public Health 2005
Promote the development of sidewalks to create safe pathways to parks and recreation facilities.
Adults must be able to get to parks and recreation facilities easily and safely. Installation and maintenance of solid sidewalks can remove one of the main access barriers for all adults, not just those with arthritis.
Install benches or rest areas in parks, trails, and recreation facilities to support greater use by adults with arthritis.
Before visiting a nearby park or walking path, adults with arthritis need to know that there are frequent, safe, and comfortable places for them to rest. Due to pain and/or limitations in endurance and stamina, adults with arthritis may need to take frequent breaks from walking to protect their health. Signs can also help adults with arthritis select walking paths that are level or have gradual slopes, and avoid those that are hilly or steep.
Use tools such as audits or walk-ability checklists to assess whether trails or paths are accessible to people with arthritis.
A walking audit (also referred to as a walking assessment) can help examine the walking conditions along specified streets, trails, and paths. It is designed to assess availability, safety, and attractiveness of walking routes in a community. It can help you map out the most commonly used walking routes, and identify the most common safety hazards and inconveniences that can keep people from walking.
Products of Washington University Prevention Research Center:
- Healthy PAGE (Policies and Actions Guided by Evidence) Project
- Physical Activity Policy Research Network
Enhance arthritis and exercise expertise of park, recreation, fitness, and sport professionals by:
- Supporting professional development programs or training
- Including arthritis-specific information in all exercise certification programs and undergraduate exercise professional training curricula
- Providing more sources of appropriate arthritis-friendly physical activity training for fitness professionals, peer leaders, etc.
In addition to offering classes and equipment that can be adapted for adults with arthritis, facilities should have staff skilled in modifying exercises and equipment for different ability levels. To the extent possible, modifications should be tailored to the individual, and the type, frequency, intensity, and duration of recommended exercise should depend on the severity, type, and location of the arthritis. Training should develop skills in tailoring exercise programs to individual needs and helping adults who have developed arthritis modify their approach to exercise (e.g., by changing intensity, frequency, or type) in order to prevent pain or other negative outcomes.
To learn more
North Carolina Office on Disability and Health (2008). Removing Barriers to Health Clubs and Fitness Facilities. Chapel Hill (NC): FPG Child Development Institute 2008.