Evidence-Based Program: Fit & Strong!

Fit & Strong! is a top-tier evidence-based group exercise program designed for persons with osteoarthritis (OA). Arthritis is the most common cause of disability among older adults and a major barrier to their participation in physical activity. One third of adults with arthritis have depression or anxiety and 40% take opioids to manage their pain. Fit & Strong! combines tailored flexibility, low-impact aerobic and strength exercises with self-management and group discussion geared toward maintenance of behavior change.  Outcomes include improved joint pain, stiffness, and function; lower-extremity strength; mobility; mood; and self-confidence to manage OA with physical activity. Benefits have been demonstrated at 8 weeks (end of program) and maintained out to 18 months. Fit & Strong! has been recommended as an arthritis-appropriate evidence-based intervention (AAEBI) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), endorsed as a research-tested intervention program by the National Cancer Institute (NIH), and recommended by the American Physical Therapy Association. Fit & Strong! is popular with participants, cost-effective, produces durable results, activates long-term behavior change, and is fun!

Additional topics include mobility and overcoming barriers to regular physical activity engagement.

Note: Track health promotion program guidance during COVID-19 regularly for updates to program implementation and training options. Programs traditionally implemented in-person may be temporarily allowable by telephone or online.

  • Target audience: Sedentary older adults who are experiencing lower extremity joint pain, stiffness, or other mobility challenges
  • Health outcomes:
    • Improved lower extremity strength
    • Improved mobility
    • Improved lower extremity pain and function
    • Improved anxiety and depression
  • Delivered by: Trained lay leader/facilitator, certified fitness instructor
  • Program type: Group
  • Format: In-person in community
  • Length: Twenty-four (24) class sessions delivered either two or three times per week. Each class session is 90 minutes
  • Training: Online, in-person
  • Professional required: No, not applicable
  • Accessibility adaptations available: Fit & Strong! @Home – online/remote adaptation and low vision adaptation
  • Cultural adaptations available: En Forma y Fuerte – Hispanic version and Forte, em forma e saudável – Portuguese version
  • Available in languages other than English: Spanish and Portuguese  
  • Topic(s):
    • Physical Activity
    • Behavioral Health
    • Chronic Disease Management
    • Falls Prevention
    • Pain Management

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