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Managing arthritis can be complex and frustrating—for you and your patients. Finding the right physical activity program can extend the benefits of your treatment and help your patients maintain their mobility and independence.

But you don't have to go it alone. Here are some APTA-recommended ways to explore community-based programs and find the best fit for you and your patients.

The basics on community physical activity programs with a strong evidence base as determined by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). See the references section for evidence and further reading about these programs.

Clinician Resources

The CDC Arthritis Program has found that the physical activity programs listed below are appropriate for arthritis and related conditions limiting mobility, have adequate evidence to support their use, and can be easily implemented in community settings.

Share this activity program with your patients to help them take charge of their activity and their lives.

Evidence for Programs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and APTA support the use of community-based activity programs to manage arthritis and related chronic conditions outside a therapeutic setting. 

OA Prevention and Management in Primary Care Toolkit
This Toolkit is designed for family physicians, internists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, physical and occupational therapists, sports medicine professionals, athletic trainers, fitness professionals and other care providers who play a critical role in detecting OA early and establishing management strategies with patients that may delay pain and stiffness and retain mobility and function.

About the Programs

Consumer Resources

Go to the Community-Based Physical Activity Programs for Arthritis page at to download consumer-friendly fact sheets.

OA prevention and management in primary care toolkit
From the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance—a 9-module online toolkit covering a variety of topics, from OA prevalence and burden to strategies for engaging patients in OA management strategies.

Evidence for Arthritis Management Through Community-Based Programs

Further Reading

These articles form the core of the evidence base for the physical activity programs discussed at the Arthritis Management Through Community-Based Programs webpage. They consist of published journal articles or written evaluation reports, focusing on studies with at least 75 participants in the treatment group and at least a 6-month follow-up period.

Review the abstracts linked below for more detailed information on programs of interest. In some cases, free full-text articles may be available.


Brady TJ, Jernick SL, Hootman JM, et al. Public health interventions for arthritis: expanding the toolbox of evidence-based interventions.Journal of Women's Health. 2009;18(12):1905-1917.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Arthritis Program. Arthritis Appropriate Physical Activity and Self-Management Education Interventions: A Compendium of Implementation Information. August 2012.

Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program

Patrick DL, Ramsey SD, Spencer AC, et al. Economic evaluation of aquatic exercise for persons with osteoarthritisMedical Care. 2001;39(5):413-424.

Belza B, Topolski T, Kinne S, et al. Does adherence make a difference? Results from a community-based aquatic exercise programNursing Research. 2002;51(5):285-291.

Wang TJ, Belza B, Thompson FE, et al. Effects of aquatic exercise on flexibility, strength and aerobic fitness in adults with osteoarthritis of the hip or kneeJournal of Advanced Nursing. 2007;57(2):141-152.

Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program

Minor MA, Prost E, Nigh M, et al. Outcomes from the Arthritis Foundation exercise program: a randomized controlled trialArthritis and Rheumatism. 2007;56(suppl):S309 [abstract 724].

Callahan LF, Mielenz T, Freburger J, et al. A randomized controlled trial of the People with Arthritis Can Exercise Program: symptoms, function, physical activity, and psychosocial outcomesArthritis and Rheumatism. 2008;59(1):92-101.

Active Living Every Day

Wilcox S, Dowda M, Leviton LC, et al. Active for Life: final results from the translation of two physical activity programsAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2008;35(4):340-351.

Baruth M, Wilcox S. Effectiveness of two evidence-based programs in participants with arthritis: findings from the Active for Life initiativeArthritis Care & Research. 2011;63(7):1038-1047.

Wilcox S, Dowda M, Wegley S, et al. Maintenance of change in the Active-for-Life initiativeAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2009;37(6):501-504.

Callahan L, Cleveland R, Shreffler R, et al. Evaluation of Active Living Every Day in adults with arthritisJournal of Physical Activity & Health. 2014; 11(2), 285-295.

Callahan LF, Schoster B, Hootman J, et al. Modifications to the Active Living Every Day (ALED) course for adults with arthritis. Preventing Chronic Disease. 2007;4(3):A58.


Wallace JI, Buchner DM, Grothaus L, et al. Implementation and effectiveness of a community-based health promotion program for older adultsJournal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences. 1998;53(4):M301-M306.

Ackermann RT, Cheadle A, Sandhu N, et al. Community exercise program use and changes in healthcare costs for older adultsAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2003;25(3):232-237.

Belza B, Shumway-Cook A, Phelan EA, et al. The effects of a community-based exercise program on function and health in older adults: the EnhanceFitness programJournal of Applied Gerontology. 2006;25(4):291-306.

Ackermann RT, Williams B, Nguyen HQ,, et al. Healthcare cost differences with participation in a community-based group physical activity benefit for Medicare managed care health plan membersJournal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2008;56(8):1459-1465.

Fit & Strong!

Hughes SL, Seymour RB, Campbell R, et al. Impact of the Fit & Strong! intervention on older adults with osteoarthritisGerontologist. 2004;44(2):217-228.

Hughes SL, Seymour RB, Campbell RT, et al. Long-term impact of Fit & Strong! on older adults with osteoarthritisGerontologist. 2006;46(6):801-814.

Seymour RB, Hughes SL, Campbell RT, et al. Comparison of two methods of conducting the Fit & Strong! ProgramArthritis and Rheumatism. 2009;61(7):876-884.

Hughes SL, Seymour RB, Campbell RT, et al. Fit and Strong!: bolstering maintenance of physical activity among older adults with lower-extremity osteoarthritisAmerican Journal of Health Behavior. 2010;34(6):750-763.

Walk With Ease

Callahan LF, Shreffler J, Altpeter M, et al. Evaluation of group and self-directed formats of the Arthritis Foundation's Walk With Ease ProgramArthritis Care & Research. 2011;63(8):1098-1107.

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