Evaluation of group and self-directed formats of the Arthritis Foundation's Walk With Ease Program


  • The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.



To evaluate the effects of a revised 6-week walking program for adults with arthritis, Walk With Ease (WWE), delivered in 2 formats, instructor-led group or self-directed.


In an observational pre-post study design, 462 individuals with self-reported arthritis selected either a group format (n = 192) or a self-directed (n = 270) format. Performance and self-reported outcomes were assessed at baseline and at 6 weeks. Self-reported outcomes were assessed at 1 year. Adjusted mean outcome values for group and self-directed participants were determined using regression models, adjusting for covariates.


At 6 weeks, significant adjusted mean improvements (P < 0.05) were seen for nearly all self-report and performance measures in both formats. Modest to moderate effect sizes (ES) were seen for disability (ES 0.16–0.23), pain, fatigue, and stiffness (ES 0.21–0.40), and helplessness (ES 0.24–0.28). The Arthritis Self-Efficacy (ASE) pain and symptom scales had modest improvements (ES 0.09–0.21). The performance measures of strength (ES 0.29–0.35), balance (ES 0.12–0.36), and walking pace (ES 0.12–0.32) all showed modest to moderate improvements. No adverse events were reported for either format. At 1 year, both formats showed modest improvement in ASE pain, but there were 5 outcomes where self-directed participants showed significant improvement, while the group participants did not.


The revised WWE program decreases disability and improves arthritis symptoms, self-efficacy, and perceived control, balance, strength, and walking pace in individuals with arthritis, regardless of whether they are taking a group class or doing the program as self-directed walkers. At 1 year, some benefits are maintained, particularly among the self-directed. This is a safe, easy, and inexpensive program to promote community-based physical activity.