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Factors Influencing Physical Activity in People with Arthritis

Funding Number


Project Description

Exercise or physical activity has well-documented benefits in arthritis management, but many people with arthritis have difficulty starting or continuing an exercise program. This research was designed to identify factors which help people become a successful exerciser, as well as factors that make it difficult for a person with arthritis to start or continue exercising. The research also identified outcomes of physical activity or exercise that are meaningful to people with arthritis. Twelve focus groups, made up of Caucasian and African American adults with arthritis, were convened in Columbia, South Carolina.

Key Findings

  • Exercisers and non-exercisers identified many of the same physical, psychological, social and environmental barriers to exercise (i.e., pain, fatigue, limited mobility, lack of time, motivation, lack of exercise partner, weather conditions).
  • More non-exercisers reported cost, lack of transportation, and lack of information as barriers.
  • Exercisers were more likely to accommodate their physical limitations and less likely to allow barriers to prevent exercise all together.
  • Exercisers had experienced benefit from their exercise, and had positive support from the people around them; non-exercisers hoped for benefits and support, but had not yet experienced them.

Abstracts, Publications, Presentations


DerAnanian CA, Vrazel J, Wilcox S, Abbott J, Ramsey C, Sharpe P. (2005). Perceived benefits and enablers of exercise among people with arthritis. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise; 37(5):1. S258.


Wilcox S, Der Ananian CA, Sharpe PA, Robbins J, Brady, T. Correlates of Physical Activity in Persons with Arthritis: Review and Recommendations. Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2005; 2(2):230-252.

Der Ananian CA, Wilcox S, Abbott J, Vrazel J, Ramsey C, Sharpe P, Brady, T. The exercise experience in adults with arthrits: a qualitative approach. Am J Health Behav, 2006;30(6):731–744.

Der Ananian CA, Wilcox S, Watkins K, Saunders R, Evans AE. Factors associated with exercise participation in adults with arthritis. J Aging Phys Act, 2008;16(2):125–143.

Der Ananian CA, Wilcox S, Abbott J, Vrazel J, Ramsey C, Sharpe P, Brady, T. Perceived exercise barriers, enablers, and benefits among exercising and nonexercising adults wtih arthritis: results from a qualitative study. Arthritis Rheum, 2006;55(4):616–627.

Der Ananian CA, Wilcox S, Watkins K, Saunders R, Evans AE. Factors that influence exercise among adults with arthrtis in three activity levels. Prev Chronic Dis, 2006;3(3):A81. Epub 2006 June 15.

Principal Investigator

Sara Wilcox, Ph.D.
University of South Carolina

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