Work Group Recommendations: 2002 Exercise and Physical Activity Conference, St. Louis, Missouri—Session VI: Population Approaches to Health Promotion and Disability Prevention Through Physical Activity

Session VI: Population Approaches to Health Promotion and Disability Prevention Through Physical Activity

Work Group Members: Robert Meenan, MD, MPH, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts (Chair); Patricia Sharpe, MPH, University of South Carolina, Columbia; Michele Boutaugh, BSN, MPH, Arthritis Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia; Teresa Brady, PhD, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Atlanta, Georgia.


Research shows that moderate physical activity has a potent impact on multiple health outcomes in people with arthritis and other chronic conditions. Community interventions aimed at lifestyle physical activity are not individual exercise prescriptions or rehabilitation but are critical complements to clinical interventions.

  • Health care professionals should assess physical activity levels, recommend physical activity as a self-management strategy, and refer patients to physical activity programs.

  • People with arthritis should engage in moderate physical activity on a regular basis.

Research Agenda

  • Obtain more epidemiologic and clinical evidence on arthritis specific dose-response to physical activity to guide development of community- and population-based interventions.

  • Define and standardize reasonable outcomes and outcome measures for community and population physical activity interventions.

  • Evaluate the efficacy and effectiveness of single strategy and multi-component community-based and/or population-based interventions for increasing physical activity.

  • Conduct market research to determine subgroup preference to guide the development of interventions tailored to specific population subgroups.

Strategies Needed for Implementation of Recommendations

  • Explore partnerships with other chronic disease programs and other non-traditional partners (i.e., park service, urban planning, faith communities).

  • Advocate for noncategorical funding to support physical activity intervention research and programming.

  • Educate policy makers of the potent benefits of physical activity and the need for community and population-based research.

  • Encourage dissemination of evidence-based lifestyle physical activity programs.

  • Position statement from the American College of Rheumatology regarding the importance of physical activity.