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Physical Activity Programs

CDC-Recommended Programs

The physical activity programs listed below are proven to improve the quality of life of people with arthritis. Scientific studies have shown that physical activity can reduce pain, improve function, mood, and quality of life for adults with arthritis. Physical activity also can help manage other chronic conditions that are common among adults with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity and can improve overall health and wellbeing. See our physical activity fact sheet to learn more about the importance of physical activity for people with arthritis. Health departments receiving CDC Arthritis Program funding can disseminate these recommended programs.

Active Living Everyday (ALED)

ALED is a group-based program developed at the Cooper Institute that focuses on helping sedentary people become and stay physically active. Participants, about 20 people in a group, come together for one hour weekly sessions for 12-20 weeks of education and discussion to learn skills (i.e., identifying and overcoming barriers, setting goals, creating an action plan) needed to become more physically active. A variety of moderate and vigorous physical activities are discussed in the program, giving the background for individuals to make their personal decisions the type and amount of exercise they want to do. Participants do their actual physical activity outside of the group setting. Facilitators (instructors) that teach the course are trained and certified. A participant book is used in conjunction with the course.  More information is available at the Active Living Everyday website.

EnhanceFitness (EF)

EnhanceFitness (formerly Lifetime Fitness) is an evidence-based, community-delivered exercise program proven to increase strength, boost activity levels, and elevate mood. Certified EF instructors offer a program that focuses on stretching, flexibility, balance, low impact aerobics, and strength training exercises. Typically classes meet three times a week for one hour. Originally designed to help older adults increase their physical activity and improve their function, adults of many ages are now participating in the program. To find out about availability in your area you can check with your state arthritis program. Learn more about the  EnhanceFitness program at the Project Enhance website. Watch a video on EnhanceFitness.

Fit & Strong!

Fit and Strong is a community-based physical activity and behavior change intervention offering stretching, balance, aerobic, and endurance exercises. Health education, problem solving and goal setting also are important components of Fit and Strong. The program was designed to target sedentary older adults who are experiencing lower-extremity joint pain and stiffness. Fit & Strong! classes are 90 minutes 3 times per week for 8 weeks and are delivered by a certified exercise instructor. Learn more about the program at the Fit & Strong! website.

Walk With Ease (WWE)

Walk with Ease is a community-based walking program developed by the Arthritis Foundation.  WWE group sessions meet three times per week for 6 weeks.  Trained group exercise leaders begin each session  with a pre-walk discussion covering a specified topic related to exercise and arthritis, followed by a 10- to 40-minute walk that includes a warm-up and cool-down periods. Learn more about the Walk with Ease program on the Arthritis Foundation website.


Promising Physical Activity Programs

Promising programs are appropriate for people with arthritis and have some evidence to document their health benefits, but are still building the infrastructure necessary to support widespread use.  State health departments receiving CDC-Arthritis Program funding can disseminate promising programs along with recommended programs.

Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP)

AFAP is a water exercise program created by the Arthritis Foundation and the Y-USA for people with arthritis and related conditions. The classes are conducted by a trained instructor and include joint range of motion, stretching, breathing, and light aerobic activities. The classes typically meet two or three times per week for one hour. Visit the Aquatic Exercise Association website to learn more about AFAP.

Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP)

AFEP is a community-based recreational exercise program developed by the Arthritis Foundation. Trained AFEP instructors cover a variety of range-of-motion and endurance-building activities, relaxation techniques, and health education topics. All of the exercises can be modified to meet participant needs. The program’s demonstrated benefits include improved functional ability, decreased depression, and increased confidence in one’s ability to exercise. Classes typically meet two or three times per week for an hour. Visit the Aquatic Exercise Association website to learn more about AFEP.

Walk With Ease (self-directed)

The Walk With Ease (WWE) program was developed by the University of North Carolina for the Arthritis Foundation. WWE helps people learn to walk safely and develop the habit of walking regularly.  WWE is offered in a group format or a self-directed format. In the self-directed format, people read the WWE book and walk on their own. Learn more about the Walk with Ease program on the Arthritis Foundation website.