For Immediate Release
May 28, 2008

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

Physical Activity Key to Decreasing Arthritis Pain

Worksite wellness initiative aimed at helping Kansas workers address chronic diseases

Although nearly 563,000 adults in Kansas who have arthritis are painfully aware of their symptoms, many still do not know there is something they can do about it.

“Being more physically active is probably the single best thing a person with arthritis can do to reduce their pain,” said Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). “Even with small increments of increased physical activity, a person with arthritis can decrease their pain, increase their flexibility and get a better night’s sleep.”

KDHE is developing a worksite initiative to address not only the impact of arthritis, but other chronic diseases in the workplace. Arthritis self-management programs have been proven to reduce medical expenses including insurance premiums and decrease absenteeism because of disease-related complications.

KDHE is encouraging Kansans who have pain and activity limitations due to arthritis work with their physician to become more physically active. Research has shown that pain and activity limitations can be reduced with 30 minutes a day of physical activity most days of the week.

“Thirty minutes a day can seem daunting and overwhelming for a person with arthritis,” said Cindy Winters, KDHE Arthritis Program Manager. “Breaking the half hour of exercise into smaller amounts over the course of the day can still have the same positive impact in reducing pain.”

Winters dispels the myth that exercising can cause further joint damage.

“When you’re moving through physical activity, blood and other vital nutrients are getting pumped into the cartilage in your joints, keeping you flexible and strengthening the muscles around the joint to protect it,” she said.

Research continues to bear out the benefits for people to be more physically active, including those persons with arthritis. Studies have shown that a person who is physically active at least one to two times a week will save an average of $250 annually in health costs.

Among working-age Kansans, 20 percent report having doctor-diagnosed arthritis. In this decade alone, arthritis has cost the state of Kansas $1.1 billion, $700 million in direct medical expenditures and $400 million in lost productivity and premature death.