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Notice to Readers: Arthritis Awareness Month --- May 2008

May is Arthritis Awareness Month, an observance intended to focus attention on the substantial and growing problem of arthritis in the United States. Arthritis, the most common cause of disability in the United States, affects one in five adults and nearly 300,000 children (1--3). By the year 2030, approximately 67 million U.S. adults will be affected by arthritis (4), compared with an estimated 46 million during 2003--2005 (3).

The emphasis of this year's observance is on encouraging persons with arthritis to stay physically active. The U.S. Surgeon General has stated that regular physical activity is necessary for everyone to maintain normal muscle strength, joint structure, and joint function (5). Moderate physical activity is recommended for all children and adults with arthritis, and walking might be one of the most accessible ways to become physically active. Walking is low impact, can be done almost anywhere and anytime, and requires only a good pair of shoes. For persons with arthritis, walking might be counter-intuitive when joints hurt; however, it is a safe, effective, and underused intervention that helps reduce joint pain, strengthen joints, and improve joint function.

The CDC Arthritis Program helps fund state arthritis programs designed to increase the quality of life among persons affected by arthritis by implementing recommendations in the National Arthritis Action Plan: A Public Health Strategy (6). The program also promotes progress toward achieving the arthritis-related objectives in Healthy People 2010 (7). Information about physical activity and self-management education programs for adults with arthritis is available from CDC at Additional information about Arthritis Awareness Month activities is available from the Arthritis Foundation online ( or by telephone (800-568-4045).


  1. CDC. Prevalence of disabilities and associated health conditions among adults---United States, 1999. MMWR 2001;50:120--5.
  2. CDC. Prevalence of doctor-diagnosed arthritis and arthritis-attributable activity limitation---United States, 2003--2005. MMWR 2006;55: 1089--92.
  3. Sacks JJ, Helmick CG, Luo YH, Ilowite NT, Bowyer S. Prevalence of and annual ambulatory health care visits for pediatric arthritis and other rheumatologic conditions in the United States in 2001--2004. Arthritis Rheum 2007;57:1439--45.
  4. Hootman JM, Helmick CG. Projections of US prevalence of arthritis and associated activity limitations. Arthritis Rheum 2006;54:226--9.
  5. CDC. Physical activity and health: a report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, GA: US Department of Health and Human Services, CDC; 1999. Available at
  6. Arthritis Foundation, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, CDC. National arthritis action plan: a public health strategy. Atlanta, GA: Arthritis Foundation; 1999. Available at
  7. US Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy people 2010 midcourse review. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services; 2006. Available at

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.

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Date last reviewed: 5/8/2008


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