There have been many studies that detail the benefits of exercise for patients dealing with arthritis. Exercise helps keeps your muscles strong and your joints flexible, but not all arthritis patients are quick to get off the couch.
A recent study by researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a doctors’ recommendation is a good way to get arthritis patients moving.
According to researchers fewer than 40 percent of US adults with arthritis partake in the recommended 30 minutes of low- to moderate-intensity physical activity five times a week. To see if the percentage improved when the patient heard the exercise recommendations from a doctor, researchers analyzed data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The data examined a variety of individual, interpersonal, and environmental factors, such as age, race, health status, health care recommendations, access to care and region of residence.
When looking at the data, researchers concluded:
- Individuals who received doctors’ recommendations for regular exercise were 22 percent more likely to work out for 30 minutes a day, five times a week.
- Respondents who were unemployed, and those living in the Midwest were more likely to abide by clinical recommendations than employed individuals and those living in the South.
- People who were in poor health, who were obese, and those with activity limitations were less likely to exercise than their counterparts.
“Respondents who received providers’ recommendations were more likely to adhere to physical activity guidelines than those who did not, after controlling for covariates,” the authors wrote. “The difference in knowledge between the health care providers and patients justifies both the providers’ assumption of authority and the patients’ trust, confidence, and norm of obedience.”
Researchers concluded that health care providers’ recommendations act as a catalyst for adherence to health-promoting behaviors.
“Providers should recommend physical activity to adults with arthritis.”
Dr. Silverman comments
This is a good study with a refreshing twist on the obvious hypothesis, “exercise is beneficial to people.”
As doctors, we are all aware of the benefits of regular exercise or sticking to a rehabilitation schedule, and I believe most patients think in a similar fashion, yet some of them need to hear the words from the mouth of a doctor. I regularly recommend strict exercise and diet specifications for my patients, but this study has made me aware how much a simple sentence – “You need to exercise for a half hour five times a week” – can affect a patient.
Kudos to the authors for their work.
Related source: Medscape, CDC
Lance Silverman, MD
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