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Do Arthritics Perceive the Importance of Exercise in the Management of Disease?

In the United States, Arthritis happens to be the single most cause of disability, which is also a huge financial burden on the country, estimated at $86 billion per year.// In the management of this disease, exercises play a vital role in reduction of pain, improving muscle strength and enhancing the quality of life. Yet with such clear indications about the benefit of exercise, people with arthritis don’t engage in as much exercise as they should, and even lesser than those who don’t suffer arthritis.

Understanding what motivates and enables some people with arthritis to exercise, and what prevents others, is the focus of a study featured in the August 2006 issue of Arthritis Care & Research (http://www.interscience.wiley.com/journal/arthritiscare). Conducted at the University of South Carolina, and supported by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Association of Schools of Public Health, its findings have direct implications for how to market exercise to arthritis patients, how to tailor exercise programs to their challenges, and how to encourage and sustain their participation.

To identify the perceived barriers to and benefits of exercise among people with arthritis, 68 people with arthritis were divided into 12 focus groups. To help participants feel more comfortable and willing to talk openly, the groups were segmented by exercise status, socioeconomic status, and race. Each focus group came together and discussed their perceptions of exercise, as well as their experiences. Each discussion was transcribed and coded by two people. Following the sessions, NVivo software was used to extract themes for exercisers with arthritis, defined by participation in moderate activities on at least 3 days per week for 30 minutes per day or vigorous activities on at least 3 days per week for 20 minutes per day or strength training on at least 3 days per week for 20 minutes per day, and for non-exercisers with arthritis. A
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