About 10 years ago, the CDC and the arthritis Foundation launched the National Arthritis Action Plan: A public health strategy. This collaboration resulted in a landmark document with a consensus of lifestyle and exercise guidelines for people who suffer from chronic arthritis. Here is a synthesis of the physical activity recommendations:

  • The most effective and safest physical activities for adults with OA of the lower extremities are low-impact, moderate-intensity forms of aerobic exercise, including water exercise, walking and cycling. Depending on the pain of the client, cycling and water exercise may be less stressful.
  • Muscle-strengthening exercises that use different forms of resistance— such as bands, body weight, free weight and fixed-form machines—are recommended.
  • Overall, a minimum of 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise throughout the week, with 2 days of muscle-strengthening exercise per week, is recommended to lessen OA pain and symptoms while enhancing body function and helping to manage chronic health conditions.

In addition, the National Arthritis Action Plan document addresses the concern that a higher body mass index is associated with OA. Being overweight may consistently overload the pressure on weight-bearing joints, leading to joint inflammation and pain. (overweight and obesity are also a major risk factor for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and premature death.) People who maintain a healthy weight are less likely to develop OA of the knee. Modest weight loss in people with OA has been shown to lead to improvements in quality of life, physical function, pain symptoms and self-reported disability levels.

To read the full article which ran in the April 2014 issue of the IDEA Fitness Journal click here.

Len Kravitz, PhD

Len Kravitz, PhD is a professor and program coordinator of exercise science at the University of New Mexico where he recently received the Presidential Award of Distinction and the Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. In addition to being a 2016 inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame, Dr. Kravitz was awarded the Fitness Educator of the Year by the American Council on Exercise. Just recently, ACSM honored him with writing the 'Paper of the Year' for the ACSM Health and Fitness Journal.

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