Objective: Despite the benefits of physical activity, people with arthritis are less active than the general population. The aim of this study was to determine the motivators and obstacles to physical activity for adults with arthritis.
Methods: Participants were identified from the Obstacles to Action Study, a community based study of 8163 adults, which explored barriers and motivators to physical activity. A 1:1 case-control study was designed; cases were identified as those participants who reported arthritis (n = 1106). Each case was matched with an age, sex and ethnicity-matched non-arthritis control (n = 1106).
Results: Cases were less likely to achieve recommended physical activity targets (58.8% vs. 68.1% P = 0.00001). Furthermore, fewer people with arthritis believed that physical activity would help them lead healthy lives (86.7% vs. 91.3% P = 0.006) or viewed physical activity as a priority (53.8% vs. 59.8% P = 0.005). Cases were less confident in their abilities to try a new activity (37.1% vs. 43.7% P = 0.002) or maintain a healthy weight (65.0% vs. 74.3% P = 0.00001). Cases also reported greater negative impact scores for barriers to activity, particularly arthritis, accessibility, cost and discomfort while exercising. Motivators and environmental barriers to activity were similar for cases and controls. These findings persisted after adjusting for educational level, body mass index and comorbidities.
Conclusion: People with arthritis are less active and demonstrate different attitudes toward physical activity. Although people with arthritis identify similar environmental barriers, they have different psychosocial barriers. In order to design effective physical activity programs for people with arthritis, these barriers must be specifically addressed.