New Data Show Veterans are More Likely to Have Arthritis than Non-Veterans

Contact: Jennifer Smith (517) 241-2112

For Immediate Release: November 10, 2014

LANSING, Mich. – In Michigan, 42 percent of veterans suffer from arthritis. That’s why this Veteran’s Day, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is raising awareness about programs that can help increase physical activity, improve daily functioning, and reduce pain, depression, and disability among adults with arthritis.

Among both men and women, arthritis is more common among veterans than non-veterans. The higher prevalence of arthritis is likely related to joint injuries that commonly occur during military service. A history of joint injury is one of the strongest risk factors for osteoarthritis (OA), the most common type of arthritis. Studies show that adults with obesity are also at an increased risk of OA. Similar to the general population, the prevalence of arthritis was highest among veterans who are obese.

Fortunately, there are inexpensive, proven strategies that are available to veterans and others to help them manage their arthritis. MDCH is encouraging residents to utilize community resources such as EnhanceFitness classes and Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) workshops to help manage arthritis and other health conditions.

EnhanceFitness is a group exercise program that helps older adults at all levels of fitness become more active, energized, and able to maintain their independence. Classes are one-hour long, meet three days a week, and are offered at more than 75 community locations around the state. Each one-hour class consists of strength training, flexibility and balance exercises, and aerobic exercise. Certified instructors lead the class, and they can help each participant adapt exercises to match their fitness level and abilities. EnhanceFitness classes are fun and easy.

Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) workshops are proven to help adults with arthritis or other long-term health conditions feel better, be in control of their health, and do the things they want to do. PATH workshops are six weeks long, typically have 12-16 participants, and are appropriate for caregivers as well as people with chronic health conditions. Workshops are led by two trained leaders, at least one of whom has a chronic condition. PATH workshops are offered in communities throughout Michigan and are usually free of charge.

For more information about arthritis, EnhanceFitness classes, or Personal Action Toward Health (PATH) workshops in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/arthritis. For more information about the veterans and arthritis data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, visit http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6344a4.htm?s_cid=mm6344a4_w.  

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