To determine the relationship between beliefs, motivation, and worries about physical activity and physical activity participation in persons with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).


A cross-sectional study used baseline data from 185 adults with RA enrolled in a randomized clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of an intervention to promote physical activity. Data included patients' self-reported beliefs that physical activity can be beneficial for their disease, motivation for physical activity participation, worries about physical activity participation, and average daily accelerometer counts of activity over a week's time. Body mass index (BMI), sex, age, race, and disease activity were measured as potential statistical moderators of physical activity.


Physical activity participation was greater for those with higher scores on scales measuring beliefs that physical activity is beneficial for their disease (P for trend = 0.032) and motivation for physical activity participation (P for trend = 0.007) when adjusted for age, sex, BMI, race, and disease activity. There was a positive but nonsignificant trend in physical activity participation in relation to worries.


Stronger beliefs that physical activity can be helpful for managing disease and increased motivation to engage in physical activity are related to higher levels of physical activity participation. These data provide a preliminary empirical rationale for why interventions targeting these concepts should lead to improved physical activity participation in adults with RA.