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Objective

To describe the exercise/physical activity and weight management efforts of Canadians with self-reported arthritis, to examine factors associated with their engagement in these strategies to help manage their arthritis, and to explore reasons for lack of engagement.

Methods

Data were from the arthritis component of the 2009 Survey on Living with Chronic Diseases in Canada. The responses (78% response rate; n = 4,565) were weighted to be representative of Canadians (ages ≥20 years) with arthritis. Logistic regression analyses were used to examine factors associated with engaging in exercise/physical activity and weight control/loss (among overweight/obese respondents) for arthritis management purposes.

Results

Individuals with arthritis were mostly women (63%), ages ≥45 years (89%), overweight/obese (67%), married (68%), and white (87%), with postsecondary education (69%). Sixty-three percent were exercising and of those who were overweight or obese, 68% were trying to control/lose weight; only 46% were engaged in both. Having received a clinical recommendation was the factor most strongly associated with engaging in exercise/physical activity and/or controlling/losing weight. The most common reason for not exercising was a coexisting health condition/problem (22%), while the most common reason for not controlling/losing weight among those who were overweight/obese was that it was felt not to be necessary (51%).

Conclusion

The provision of clinical recommendations from a health professional, providing advice on safe and suitable exercises/physical activities, as well as addressing misperceptions of the need to lose weight among the overweight/obese, may facilitate engagement in these health behaviors and ultimately reduce the consequences of arthritis.