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Physical activity levels in Atlantic Canadian Arthritis Patients

Scott Grandy, Yunsong Cui, Vanessa DeClercq, & Melanie Keats

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Arthritis is one of the most common chronic health conditions in Canada and is a leading cause of disability affecting over 4 million Canadians over 15 years of age. Of note, the prevalence of arthritis in Atlantic Canadians aged 15 and older is well above the national average (i.e., ranging from 19-23% in Atlantic Provinces versus 16% nationally). Arthritis is an inflammatory disease that affects the joints, causing chronic joint pain, swelling and stiffness, ultimately impairing an individual’s ability to carry out daily activities and negatively impacting their quality of life. The treatment approach to arthritis primarily involves symptom management, including pain relief and improving joint function. The preferred strategy is a conservative, non-pharmacological approach followed by medications and subsequently surgery as required. An important element of the non-pharmacological management strategy is weight reduction and physical activity.

It is well known that a sedentary lifestyle and/or a lack of physical activity has multiple negative effects of health indices. Regrettably, while the health benefits of physical activity are well acknowledged, many Canadians are failing to reach the recommended 150 minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, particularly those with arthritis. A variety of factors, including environmental, demographic, psychosocial, and physical conditions can influence the physical activity levels of people living with arthritis. For example, physical factors such as join pain, stiffness, and reduced muscle strength experienced by people living with arthritis may impair an individuals’ ability to fully participant in physical activity. Notwithstanding, physical activity has been shown to improve joint function and act as an effective pain management strategy in those suffering from arthritis. Accordingly, using a population-based sample from the Atlantic Provinces, the purpose of this report is to describe and compare the physical activity levels of individuals with a self-reported history of arthritis to those who have do not have a history of the disease.

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