Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP)

middle aged black woman working out in a pool

About the program: The Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program (AFAP) is a community-based, group program that uses a variety of water-based exercises to increase physical activity among adults with arthritis.

  • AFAP is offered in some YMCAs and by other community organizations.
  • Note: Participants do not need to know how to swim to participate in AFAP.


To increase:

  • Range of motion
  • Muscle strength
  • Moderate intensity endurance
  • Day to day function
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-care behaviors

To reduce:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Target Audience:

  • Adults with arthritis
  • Older adults

Key Activities:

  • Range of motion exercises
  • Muscle strengthening exercises
  • Optional moderate intensity endurance exercises
  • Socialization activities

Setting: Community/ Group-based workshop

Suggested class size: No more than 20 participants

Duration: One hour, 2-3 times a week, for 6-10 weeks


  • Participant cost: Varies
  • Leader/ Host Cost:
    • Training fees range from $99 to $129. Learn more about becoming an AFAP leader.
    • Participant manuals for each participant are $2.30 per person.
    • Other materials for participants as needed
    • Note: The Aquatic Exercise Association offers trainings for both the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program and the Arthritis Foundation Aquatic Program or just the exercise program.

Program Requirements:

  • One Arthritis Foundation certified instructor per class who must commit to teaching at least one class series per year. Learn more about becoming an AFAP leader.
  • Instructors must take Arthritis Foundation training, and must be re-certified every two years.
  • Instructor must have CPR certification and be able to swim.
  • The facility must have either a lifeguard or water safety certification (water safety or lifeguard certification may be available from the Y).
  • No license is required, but class must take place in a facility or organization that has a cosponsor agreement with the Arthritis Foundation.
  • Physical requirements: a warm swimming pool (83-90 degrees), water should go to at least shoulder level, pool must meet state pool safety requirements
  • Option exercise equipment: Flotation belts or vests, kickboards, noodles or noodle bars, webbed gloves, upper body trainers, paddles

More Information: