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Arthritis Consumer Experts Survey Report on Arthritis and Exercise

People living with arthritis want or try to be involved in physical activities. Some may focus on simple tasks in their daily life like working, doing chores around the house, doing yard work, and grocery shopping. While others may want to exercise regularly through brisk walking, participating in a ceremonial dance, tai chi, or yoga. Many participate in more challenging forms of exercise, like road cycling and competitive team sports like basketball or beach volleyball. Many people with arthritis, however, also share common concerns: How much exercise is enough? How much is too much? What types of exercise are best, or should be avoided? Who can help create a personalized exercise plan?

Survey goals

ACE members and subscribers have shared with us the many challenges to finding detailed information, and help, to guide safe exercise. With this survey, ACE’s goal was to identify gaps in exercise education, programming, and monitoring and how the healthcare system, health care providers, and patient organizations can better support an arthritis patient’s exercise journey.

What type of exercise did respondents participate in?

Survey respondents were asked what type of exercise they participated in and had the option to select all that apply. The top three types of exercises were recreational activities (70% of respondents), exercise programs or classes such as Pilates, yoga, dance or swimming lessons (45% of respondents), and individual exercise such as skiing or tennis (31% of respondents). These findings were similar for respondents no matter their type of arthritis, gender, race or ethnicity or where they lived. Nine per cent of respondents said they did not participate in any exercise prior to their arthritis diagnosis.

Other types of exercise that respondents selected were:

  • Cardiovascular training such as running, jogging, or road and stationary cycling (30%)
  • Strength based training such as weightlifting (29%)
  • Other such as walking, playing with children, gardening or tai-chi (18%)
  • Team sports such as curling, soccer, basketball or volleyball (9%)

Frequency, duration and intensity of exercise

Most respondents exercised 3 to 4 days per week (4 in 10 respondents), followed by 5 to 6 days per week (3 in 10 respondents) and 1 to 2 days per week (1 in 10 respondents). One in 10 respondents reported exercising daily, bi-weekly or rarely.

On average, the duration of each exercise session for Survey respondents were:

  • 46-60 minutes long (33%)
  • 31-45 minutes long (24%)
  • 16-30 minutes long (23%)
  • 0-15 minutes long (10%)
  • More than 60 minutes long (10%)

Survey respondents were asked how challenging they found most of their exercise sessions:

  • Half of the respondents found their exercise session to be “light” intensity – they can have a conversation while doing this activity
  • Close to half (47%) found their exercise session to be “moderate” intensity – they find it difficult to have a conversation while doing this activity
  • 3% found their exercise session to be “high” intensity – they find it impossible to have a conversation while doing this activity

To read the full report, please click here