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Physical activity brings mass benefit in arthritis

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Increasing physical activity may promote physical and mental wellbeing in people with arthritis and bring huge public health benefits, authors of a North American survey have suggested—the first so far to investigate physical activity, health related quality of life (HRQOL), and arthritis together on a population scale. It should help to reduce the burden of ill health they found with inactivity, and they recommend that exercise programmes are developed for all functional levels.

Self reported data from 212 000 respondents from all 50 states and the district of Columbia showed conclusively that people with arthritis who were inactive by federal state criteria were significantly more likely to have more physical and mental ill health—14–30 days in the previous month—than those who complied. This was especially true for inactive women, with odds ratios of 2.39 for mental and 1.33 for physical health; inactive men had ratios of 2.19 and 1.56, respectively. Although cause and effect cannot be assumed in the cross sectional survey, this should prove to be the case, on past evidence.

The BRFSS (behavioural risk factor surveillance system) survey used was designed to capture uniform state specific data on preventive health practices and risk behaviours associated with chronic diseases in adults and collects data from a sample population—one per household.

Regular physical activity can reduce pain, increase function, and delay disability in arthritis. However, the relation between physical activity and HRQOL has not been well enough investigated before in the general population or in those with arthritis.

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