Arthritis and Physical Activity among Adults in the United States: Cross-sectional Analyses of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

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Arthritis is a chronic condition affecting millions of older adults worldwide and a leading cause of pain and disability. Physical activity is effective and recommended in managing arthritis and promoting overall health in older adults. However, many older adults with arthritis struggle with participation consistent in physical exercises and activity as a result of pain, stiffness, and fatigue. A cross-sectional study design is applied to derive the findings in this study using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). We found that 9467(27%) participants reported as Arthritis from 2007 to 2018. Compared with non- arthritis subjects, Arthritis participants tended to be older (62.2 ± 13.8 vs. 45.3 ± 17.0, p<.001), female (59.5% vs. 48.5%, p<.001), lower level of education (3.2 ± 1.3 vs. 3.5 ± 1.3, p<.001). The multivariable logistic regression showed that Osteoarthritis was only negatively correlated with vigorous work activity (OR: 0.75, 95%CI: 0.59-0.95, p=.018). Participants with Osteoarthritis or degenerative were more likely to perform moderate work activity (OR:1.17, 95%CI:1.07-1.28, p<.001) and instead perform less walking or bicycle (OR:0.79, 95%CI: 0.71-0.88, p<.001), and moderate recreational activities (OR:0.84, 95%CI:0.77-0.92, p<.001). Patients with other types of Arthritis were more willing to engage in recreational activities than work activity. Further, we also included the population ≥65 years of age or older with Arthritis causing physical movement difficulties, to find out about the health status of these people and whether they are physically active or how often they are physically active. Compared to arthritis patients (≥65 years older) with non-functional limitations, arthritis patients with functional limitations tended to be female (63% vs. 53%), divorced (48% vs. 39%). In addition, minutes of sedentary activity were associated with having a higher functional limitations risk among arthritis patients with 65 years or older (OR, 1.59 for >480 mins, OR, 1.32 for (360~480) mins compared with ≤240 mins, Fig.2-3). Compared with arthritis patients doing less than 30 minutes of moderate recreational activities on a regular day, those doing above 180 minutes had a higher risk of functional limitations. The findings of this study will provide important insight for developing interventions to foster physical activity among older adults with arthritis and consequently improve their health and well-being.





Yu, Xin (2023). Arthritis and Physical Activity among Adults in the United States: Cross-sectional Analyses of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Master's thesis, Duke University. Retrieved from


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