A new study shows that the Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program helped an inactive group of adults with osteoarthritis feel better and have more mobility. But the results were not dramatic. Write the authors: the program "modestly improves symptoms and strength but does not improve function, increase exercise endurance, or increase physical activity ... For more substantial benefits, frequency and intensity may need to be increased."
Three things you need to know
1. The AF Exercise Program, formerly known by the acronym PACE, is a specific plan tailored to an individual's condition. But the program tested was fairly mild stuff: All chair and standing exercises. The sessions were an hour long, and done twice a week.
2. The outcomes showed that people who did most of the program for eight weeks showed improvement in pain, fatigue and stiffness, in some arm and leg strength and in self-confidence they could manage their arthritis. Six months after completing the program, only the improvements of pain and fatigue continued. But those who stuck with the program at home for six months maintained improvement in all physical symptoms.
3. We've said it before and we'll say it again: Exercise is an important part of arthritis management. But it has to be tailored to your abilities and condition. For lasting benefits, you need to make it a regular part of your life. Exercising harder and longer--if you do it safely! without doing any damage! with professional care and assistance! and not without consulting your doctor!--the bigger the payoff you're likely to get.
Want more? You can take our quiz about your arthritis exercise regimen. Community member Christine Miller has this great SharePost about the AF arthritis exercise program that was studied. And our expert physician Jonathan Krant has a thorough overview about the benefits and risks of exercise for arthritis.