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.
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.
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
- Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program.pdf
A gentle, warm water exercise program held at local pools. The program is now supported by the Aquatic Exercise Association. Check the Arthritis Foundation class list for current locations.
- Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program.pdf
A group exercise program where participants learn safe stretching, breathing, endurance, and balance activities. Check the Arthritis Foundation class list for current locations.
- Arthritis Active Living Every Day.pdf
A program that encourages people who are sedentary to make exercise part of daily life by developing their own individual exercise plans. Use the course locator to find a program near you.
- Arthritis Enhance Fitness.pdf
An award-winning group exercise program that includes stretching, low-impact aerobics, and strength training. For those in states other than Washington, use the link above. Check this list of programs. If you're located in Washington state, you can use the ProjectEnhance interactive locator tool to find a program nearby.
- Arthritis Fit and Strong.pdf
An exercise program for people with knee or hip osteoarthritis that teaches practical exercise to help with everyday activities. Check the map of locations for a program near you.
- Arthritis Walk With Ease.pdf
A program—done as a group or on your own—which guides you in how to start walking safely and stick with it. To find instructor-led programs in your area, call 800/283-7800 or contact the Arthritis Foundation office in your state. Self-directed course materials can be ordered from the Arthritis Foundation Online Store. In addition, the Springfield College physical therapist program in Massachusetts hosts a Walk With Ease hub that includes a manual available to all PT and PTA programs; it’s aimed at engaging physical therapy students in the role of health coaches for the Walk With Ease program but is suitable for PTs and PTAs, too.
Go to the Community-Based Physical Activity Programs for Arthritis page at ChoosePT.com 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 Programs
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and APTA support the use of community-based activity programs to manage arthritis and related chronic conditions outside a therapeutic setting. Expand the References section below to explore the related eveidence for arthritis management through community-based programs.