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Abstract

Objective

To estimate the prevalence of US adults with self-reported, doctor-diagnosed arthritis (without specifying the type of rheumatic disease) who are meeting the US Surgeon General's recommendations for physical activity.

Methods

Using population-based survey data from the 2001 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey, we classified respondents according to their arthritis status and their level of physical activity (i.e., physically inactive, insufficiently active, or meeting recommendations). Prevalence data were weighted to take account of the complex sampling design, and were broken down by a variety of demographic characteristics such as race, education, and body weight.

Results

Nearly one-quarter (23%) of US adults reported having doctor-diagnosed arthritis. Among adults with arthritis, 23.8% were physically inactive, 38% reported insufficient levels of physical activity, and 38.3% reported meeting the recommendations for physical activity. The highest prevalence of inactivity in adults with arthritis was found among those subjects with fewer than 8 years of formal education (47.6%), those with 9–11 years of education (35.5%), those who were African American (35.4%), those whose age was ≥65 years (31.1%), and those who were Hispanic (30.4%).

Conclusion

Despite the benefits of physical activity, more than 60% of adults with arthritis do not meet the physical activity recommendations. Efforts should be made to ensure that adults with arthritis are made aware of the benefits of physical activity, and that interventions are prescribed to assist these individuals in becoming more physically active.