Effects of exercise on disability in older adults with arthritis: A 3-year follow-up


  • Kenneth E. Mobily, PhD




arthritis, exercise, longitudinal


The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of exercise on functional disability outcomes in older adults with arthritis. Exercise was operationalized as frequency of exercise per week at baseline and follow-up, and as miles walked per week at baseline and follow-up. Results indicated that subjects reporting high exercise frequency at baseline and follow-up were least impaired after 3 years. Surprisingly, changing from low rate of exercise to a high rate of exercise by follow-up was not associated with less impairment. These data suggest that benefit is secured only with adoption and continuity of exercise. Additional results indicated that frequent walking at follow-up yielded benefit, irrespective of walking mileage at baseline. Implications and applications for therapeutic recreation inducing comparable outcomes in practice are discussed.

Author Biography

Kenneth E. Mobily, PhD

Department of Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Arthritis-related statistics. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/data_statistics/arthritis_related_stats.htm. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Issa SN, Sharma L: Epidemiology of osteoarthritis: An update. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2006; 8: 7-15.

Arthritis Foundation: Arthritis Foundation Exercise Program. Atlanta. GA: Arthritis Foundation, 2009.

Arabelovic S, McAlindon TE: Considerations in the treatment of early osteoarthritis. Curr Rheumatol Rep. 2005; 7: 29-35.

Dexter PA: Joint exercises in elderly persons with symptomatic osteoarthritis of the hip or knee: Performance patterns, medical support patterns and the relationship between exercising and medical care. Arthritis Care Res. 1992; 5: 36-41.

Mobily KE: Role of exercise and physical activity in therapeutic recreation services. Ther Recreation J. 2009; 43(2): 9-26.

Austin DR: A call for training in physical activity. In Austin DR, Dattilo J, and McCormick BP (eds.): Conceptual Foundations for Therapeutic Recreation. State College, PA: Venture, 2002: 225-234.

Austin DR: Health protection/Health promotion model. Ther Recreation J. 1998; 32(2): 109-117.

Carruthers CP, Hood CD: Building a life of meaning through therapeutic recreation: The leisure and well-being model, part I. Ther Recreation J. 2007; 41(4): 276-297.

Van Andel GE: TR service delivery and TR outcome models. Ther Recreation J. 1998; 32: 180-193.

Wilhite B, Keller MJ, Caldwell L: Optimizing lifelong health and well-being: A health enhancing model of therapeutic recreation. Ther Recreation J. 1999; 33: 98-108.

Holland GJ, Tanaka K, Shigematsu R, et al.: Flexibility and physical functions of older adults: A review. J Aging Phys Act. 2002; 10: 169-206.

Ettinger WH, Afable RF: Physical disability from knee osteoarthritis: The role of exercise as an intervention. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1994; 12: 1435-1440.

Iwamoto J, Sato Y, Takeda T, et al.: Effectiveness of exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee: A review of the literature. World J Orthop. 2011; 2: 37-42.

Ettinger WH, Burns R, Messier SP, et al.: A randomized trial comparing aerobic exercise and resistance exercise with a health education program in older adults with knee osteoarthritis. J Am Med Assoc. 1997; 277: 25-31.

Kettunen JA, Kujala UM: Review: Exercise therapy for people with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2004; 14: 138-142.

Sharma L, Cahue S, Song J, et al.: Physical functioning over three years in knee osteoarthritis: Role of psychosocial, local mechanical, and neuromuscular factors. Arthritis Rheum. 2003; 48: 3359-3370.

Mobily KE: Exercise and functional disability in older adults. Ther Recreation J. 2013; 47: 47-60.

Guo L: Examining the impact of rheumatoid arthritis on the discontinuity, continuity, and development patterns of physical activities. Am J Recreat Ther. 2010; 9(4): 9-18.

Kuramoto AM: Therapeutic benefits of Tai Chi exercise; Research review. WMJ. 2006; 105: 42-46.

Ytterberg SR, Mahowald ML, Krug HE: Exercise for arthritis. Baillieres Clin Rheumatol. 1994; 8: 161-189.

Van Gool CH, Pennix BW, Kempen IJ, et al.: Effects of exercise adherence on physical function among overweight older adults with knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheum. 2005; 53: 24-32.

Mirowsky J, Ross CE: Education and self-rated health. Res Aging. 2008; 30: 93-122.

Payne LL, Mowen AJ, Montoro-Rodriguez J: The role of leisure style in maintaining health of older adults with arthritis. J Leis Res. 2006; 38: 20-45.

Zimmer Z, Hickey T, Searle M: The pattern of change in leisure activity behavior among older adults with arthritis. Gerontologist. 1997; 37S: 384-392.

Smith SA, Yoshioka CF: Recreation functioning and depression in people with arthritis. Ther Recreation J. 1992; 26: 21-29.



How to Cite

Mobily, PhD, K. E. (2016). Effects of exercise on disability in older adults with arthritis: A 3-year follow-up. American Journal of Recreation Therapy, 15(1), 23–29. https://doi.org/10.5055/ajrt.2016.0097