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News Letter

Home Health Education Living With Joint Pain
Exercise: Rx for Arthritis, According to Centers for Disease Control Print E-mail

If you or someone you love suffers from arthritis, you may be interested in these arthritis facts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prevalence of Arthritis Has Been Underestimated

One in three American adults has arthritis or chronic joint discomfort, according to a 2002 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC found that nearly 70 million people per year have joint problems, which was previously estimated at 43 million people (including children). Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in America. CDC experts advise people not to ignore the pain and stiffness in their joints, since these symptoms can be treated.

Arthritis and exercise:

  • Despite recent scientific evidence that regular physical activity has significant physical and mental health benefits, millions of Americans remain physically inactive. Findings of CDC research using the National Health Interviews Survey of about 120,000 Americans indicate that people with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions are significantly less active than the population as a whole. The rates of physical activity among people with arthritis may be lower because of the mistaken recommendations in the past that they should not exercise because it would damage their joints.
  • The research indicates that people with arthritis and other rheumatic conditions were significantly more likely to report no leisure-time physical activity at all, and had significantly lower rates of vigorous physical activity.
  • The Surgeon General's Report on Physical Activity and Health found for people with osteoarthritis (a degenerative joint disease) that "regular physical activity is necessary for maintaining normal muscle strength, joint structure, and joint function ... and was not associated with joint damage or development of osteoarthritis and may be beneficial for many people with arthritis." Other studies have found that people with arthritis have experienced improvement in muscle function and other important health benefits from exercise training. This was true even for older adults with arthritis. (Osteoarthritis patients should avoid high-impact exercises such as running that may put excessive strain on joints, however).
  • People with arthritis should see their doctor or physical or occupational therapist prior to increasing their level of physical activity.

Clearly, if you have arthritis, you are not alone - about one in six Americans have some form of the disease.

Just as clearly, exercise can play an important role in your arthritis control plan.

It's never too late to start an exercise program. Why not talk with your doctor and make a "resolution" to increase your exercise?


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