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Keywords:

  • Physical activity;
  • Women;
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Abstract

Objective

To identify physical activity behaviors of older (≥60 years) women with rheumatoid arthritis, and to determine if physical activity behavior differed by demographic characteristics or disease duration.

Methods

Cognitively intact, ambulatory women with rheumatoid arthritis seen at an urban university arthritis center (n = 185) responded to a survey that included demographics, number of years since RA diagnosis, and physical activity assessed with the Yale Physical Activity Survey.

Results

Participants had a mean age of 70 years and a mean disease duration of 17.6 years. Mean total of physical activity, including low-, moderate-, and high-intensity activity, was 23 hours/week, with 47 different physical activities identified. Housework comprised 67% of total physical activity time, whereas leisure activities and planned exercise comprised only 15% and 10%, respectively. Sixty percent of the women reported participation in some type of vigorous activity, and 88% reported they had done leisure walking in the past month. Age was negatively associated with scores on the activity summary index (r = –0.195, P < 0.01), and there was a significant difference on the activity summary index by employment status, with women in the work force (n = 47) and those involved in housekeeping (n = 105) scoring significantly higher (P = 0.003) than the women (n = 33) who described themselves as retired (F = 7.81, 2 degrees of freedom, P = 0.001).

Conclusion

Older women with rheumatoid arthritis may participate in a broader array of physical activities than previously assumed, and could benefit from increasing the proportion of moderate or vigorous activity incorporated into their daily routines.