Many American arthritis sufferers aren’t getting any exercise despite its benefits for reducing pain and improving their quality of life, new research shows. The benefits of exercising can be increasingly helpful to Black people with arthritis, who are more likely to experience joint pain and work limitations, according to the CDC.
Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults with arthritis engaged in physical activity in the past month, most often walking, according to a new data analysis by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings were drawn from national health surveys from 2016 through 2018.
“With 33% of U.S. adults with arthritis who are not physically active, there is still room for public health action,” lead researcher Dana Guglielmo of the CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says.
And that action starts with frank talk between arthritis patients and their health care providers, according to Guglielmo.
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What to ask your doctor
Guglielmo suggested patients ask their doctors about arthritis-friendly physical activities and self-management programs to help ease symptoms such as joint pain.
“Providers should check in with patients about their physical activity levels and talk to them about physical activity and arthritis self-management programs,” she adds.
Arthritis is the most often reported cause of disability among Americans over age 15.
What are the consequences of not exercising?
Dr. Jeffrey Schildhorn, an orthopedic surgeon at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says that everyone with arthritis pain should be encouraged to be active.
“People with arthritis ask me what can I do, and I tell them … you want to move your body,” he shares. “When people stop moving their bodies, they get stiffer, they start quitting, they get fat.”
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The best way to prevent these consequences is to be active, according to Schildhorn. Even people who suffer the most pain can benefit from walking. Being physically active helps keep joints lubricated, he explains.
“Most people with arthritis wake up stiff, and sometimes they wake up in more pain, and as they get going, joints tend to lubricate, they get