In this year’s annual World Arthritis Day under the theme “Move to Improve” held on October 12, the American College of Rheumatology is joining worldwide organizations in implementing physical activities to combat arthritis and rheumatic diseases, including osteoarthritis, gout, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis and lupus.

In the U.S. approximately 50 million individuals, including almost 300,000 children suffer from arthritis and rheumatic diseases. Inactivity in people affected by these diseases could potentially lead to the development of a variety of health risks, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It also worsens weak muscles, stiff joints, decreased pain tolerance and poor balance common to many forms of arthritis.

Compared with people who are inactive, those physically active are physically healthier, happier and live longer, experiencing improvement in pain, sleep, energy and day-to-day functioning. This applies particularly to those affected by arthritis, and even though these facts are supported by evidence, arthritis sufferers’ most common reason for inactivity is that it limits their physical activity and recreational pursuits.

David Borenstein, MD, ACR President and practicing rheumatologist says:

“Many people with arthritis and rheumatic diseases suffer from joint pain and stiffness, which can cause a person to avoid exercise out of the fear of increasing their pain or causing injury. However, exercise, when properly planned and safely executed, can do just the opposite.”

The ACR offers tips for creating a safe, customized and realistic exercise plan:

  • Consult with your rheumatologist
  • Set yourself realistic short and long-term goals with rewards after every achievement
  • Plan ahead identifying problems or obstacles for your exercise program and how you can overcome them.
  • Create a range of exercise options and locations for variety
  • Choose convenient, inexpensive and fun activities
  • Exercise together with friends or family members
  • Log your exercise progress on a calendar

Dr. Borenstein explains:

“While there is no cure for arthritis, a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise can improve quality of life and exercising can be very motivating and one of the easiest ways to combat pain from arthritis and rheumatic diseases.”

The ACR has joined the Arthritis Foundation’s Ad Council campaign “Fight Arthritis Pain”, which helps people with, or who are at risk from developing osteoarthritis aged 55 or over to discover movement as a weapon to combat arthritis. The campaign aims to raise people’s awareness that OA can prevent and reduce pain by following just a few simple steps.

For more information on the World Arthritis Day, please visit

Written by Petra Rattue