Physical Activity Implementation Guide
Boosting physical activity among adults with arthritis

Parks, Recreation, Fitness
and Sport

What Can You Do?

Providing access, education, and resources that help people incorporate fun and meaningful physical activity into their daily lives can foster real change in the national level of physical activity.”[1]

Physical activity and exercise are at the core of the mission of our nation’s vast array of parks, green spaces, sports and recreation facilities, and community centers. Expanding this incredible resource to benefit adults with arthritis can be as simple as sharing information—in posters, brochures, news alerts, and social media—on the benefits of physical activity for people with arthritis at your sites. Or it can involve offering more low-impact and low-intensity exercise equipment and classes for older adults with arthritis and disabilities.

A few tips

As you think about how best to use your resources and capabilities to make it easier for adults with arthritis to participate in physical activity, consider the primary environmental barriers they face:[2]

  • Availability of programs or facilities – including few programs or facilities that meet specific needs and lack of qualified instructors as well as lack of awareness of the programs 
  • Cost – for both current exercisers and non-exercisers 
  • Transportation – including congested parking, lack of transportation to facilities or programs, as well as placement of new facilities and programs in locations that are not accessible by public transportation  
  • Exercise facility design – including no safe curb cuts (depressed curbs that act as ramps in sidewalks), inaccessible access routes, lack of elevators, slippery floors, absence of hand rails on stairs, lack of adaptive and/or accessible equipment, lack of knowledgeable instructors, and poor equipment maintenance
  • Accessibility to public spaces – including poorly maintained trails, no safe curb cuts, damaged or no sidewalks, terrain too steep a grade or slope, insufficient number of benches or resting places along a trail for people who need frequent rest periods, inadequate lighting, and poorly designated signage
  • Safety conditions – including risky neighborhoods, concrete surfaces, and presence of dogs 

What strategies will make the most difference?

Instructors who understand issues related to arthritis

Availability of programs that are safe and accessible for people with arthritis, including walking paths and water-based exercise 

Tailoring of programs to incorporate pain management skills into an exercise program and teach people how to modify their exercise routines according to their symptoms 

Adaptations in exercise facilities including non-slip mats in locker rooms, adequate number of accessible parking spaces, push-button operated doors, zero-depth entry pools, and family changing rooms 

Suitable exercise equipment including Velcro straps to allow individuals with disabilities to grip exercise equipment, pool water chairs, and upper-body aerobic exercise equipment 



[1] Source: The National Physical Activity Plan

[2] Source: CDC, White Paper: Identifying Relevant Policies and Environmental Strategies to Increase Physical Activity among Persons with Arthritis, 2011

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