Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP)

About the program: The Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program (AFEP) is a low-impact recreational exercise program that incorporates a brief educational component.

AFEP is offered in some YMCAs and by other community organizations.

group of adults stretching in an exercise class


To improve:

  • Functional ability
  • Self-confidence
  • Self-care
  • Mobility
  • Muscle strength
  • Coordination

To reduce:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain
  • Stiffness

Target Audience: Adults with arthritis of all activity levels

Key Activities:

  • Multiple exercise activities, including: joint check/warm-up, range of motion/stretching, strengthening, cardiovascular endurance, and joint check/cool down
  • There are also balance and coordination activities.
  • Each class also includes a health education component from the program formally known as PACE- People with Arthritis Can Exercise
  • The class also has relaxation and breathing activities
  • Instructors have the option to include weight-bearing, posture/body mechanics, body awareness, and socialization activities.

Setting: Community/ Group-based workshop

Suggested class size: Small groups of no more than 20 people

Duration: The class meets for one hour, two to three times a week. Although developed as an 8 to 12 week program, it can be extended to include ongoing classes.


  • Participant costs: Varies
  • Leader/ Host Costs:
    • Training fees range from $199 to $129. Learn more about becoming an AFEP 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 AF certified instructor per class
  • The instructor must be educated or certified in exercise, fitness, or other health-related field.
  • The instructor must have CPR certification.
  • The program must take place in an AF approved facility.
  • The class takes place in a community room with sturdy chairs and enough space for exercise.
  • Each class uses equipment, including: weights, resistance bands, balls, music and/or relaxation recordings, and exercise mats. Instructors can use as much or as little equipment as they would like.

More Information: