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Thu, Oct. 17

Joint-friendly exercises benefit those with arthritis and heart disease

Arthritis may create an additional barrier to using physical activity to help people manage their heart disease, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Adults with both heart disease and arthritis are significantly more likely to be physically inactive than those with heart disease alone, the study said.

The study found that arthritis is common among those having heart disease. Approximately 57 percent of adults with heart disease have arthritis.

In the study, about 29 percent of adults with arthritis and heart disease were inactive, compared to 21 percent of people with heart disease alone, 18 percent of those with just arthritis, and 11 percent of adults with neither condition.

"Engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce arthritis pain and improve joint function, which in turn can help people with heart disease get more active and better manage both conditions," said Chad Helmick, M.D., a CDC medical epidemiologist and co-author of the study.

The study, based on combined 2005 and 2007 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data, show that the prevalence of physical inactivity for adults with both heart disease and arthritis varied substantially from state to state - ranging from 20.5 percent in Colorado to 50.3 percent in Kentucky.

"Unfortunately, many people living with both arthritis and heart disease seldom or never exercise because they may be unsure about which activities are safe and worry about aggravating their joint or their heart problems," said Janet Collins, Ph.D., director of CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

"These fears are readily addressed by good information, consultation with their doctor, evidence-based programs, and strong social support."

Nationwide, 14.1 million adults have heart disease. Inactive persons with heart disease who increase activity benefit from improved physical function and lowered blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels. Joint-friendly activities, such as walking, swimming and biking, and specially tailored self-management education and exercise programs are safe and can improve health for adults with both conditions. Anyone starting an exercise program should first talk with his or her doctor.

Disease self-management classes, including exercise programs that address arthritis-specific barriers, may help adults with arthritis and heart disease.

For more information on joint-friendly exercise programs, visit CDC's arthritis website at www.cdc.gov/arthritis/intervention.

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