1583 - How Do Self-Directed Participants Follow the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with Ease Program?

Monday, November 7, 2011: 9:00 AM-6:00 PM
Hall F2 - Poster Hall (McCormick Place West)
Kirsten A. Nyrop, Britta L. Schoster, Mary Altpeter, Betsy Hackney and Leigh F. Callahan, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC
Presentation Number: 1583


Background/Purpose: Our research team established the efficacy of the Walk With Ease (WWE) program for both a self-directed and an instructor-led group format. Self-directed participants were encouraged to walk at least 3 days/week for 30 accumulated minutes/day, and to follow the program at their own pace using the WWE workbook. The workbook includes basic facts about arthritis and exercise, motivational tools (e.g. self-check lists, walking diary), and warm-up and cool-down exercises. This study examines how self-directed participants followed the WWE components, throughout the 6-week intervention and 1 year later.

Method: At the end of the 6-week trial, self-directed participants completed a self-assessment survey and at 1 year a follow-up survey of their continued use of the WWE program. Survey responses were analyzed using descriptive statistics to examine how participants followed the program.

Result: 270 WWE study participants opted for the self-directed format, of which 225 (83%) completed the 6-week and 204 (91%) the 1-year survey.

At the end of the WWE program, 52% reported walking an average of 3.7 (±1.8) days/week and 31.7 (±15.3) minutes/walk. 38% described themselves as more physically active, 76% would continue walking, and 97% would recommend WWE to a friend. At 1 year, 69% reported continued walking for exercise, 61% walked about the same amount of time/minutes, 54% about the same number of times/week, and 96% would recommend WWE to a friend.

Table 1 is an overview of how participants reported following components of the WWE program. Despite wide variation in self-reported use of the workbook and related tools, 81% found the workbook somewhat/very helpful with reaching their walking goals. 58% found the walking diary helpful, and 47% read 4 or more of the 6 workbook chapters. Although participants did not do the exercises regularly, 49% found the stretching and 53% the strengthening exercises somewhat/very helpful. At 1 year, 69% continued walking for exercise, 61% walked about the same number of minutes, and 54% the same number of walks/week.

Conclusion: Self-directed participants reported high satisfaction with and benefits from the WWE program, both at 6 weeks and 1 year. However, there was considerable variability in how they used specific program components. These findings indicate that the self-directed WWE format is acceptable and provides a flexible option for adults with arthritis symptoms who prefer to exercise on their own.

Table 1. Use of the Walk With Ease Program by Self-Directed Participants at 6 Weeks




WWE workbook


Read 4 or more of the 6 chapters


Considered the workbook somewhat or very helpful with reaching walking goals


Self-Assessment Tools


Used the Starting Point Self-Test


Used the Ending Point Self-Test


Used the Knowledge and Confidence Self-Check


Walking diary


Used to keep track of times/distances walked


Tracked amount of time spent walking


Tracked distance walked


Used the walking diary to strengthen motivation to walk


Considered the walking diary somewhat or very helpful




Did the warm-up and cool-down stretches a couple of times a week


Thought the stretches were somewhat/very helpful


Did the strengthening exercises regularly


Thought the strengthening exercises were somewhat or very helpful




Physical activity level


Moderately or a lot more active now compared to before starting WWE


Key items learned from WWE


-          The relationship between arthritis, exercise and pain

-          How to overcome physical and mental barriers to walking

-          How to exercise safely and comfortably

-          How to make a walking plan with realistic goals

-          Strategies to keep my motivation







Keywords: community programs, education, patient and exercise

Disclosure: K. A. Nyrop, None; B. L. Schoster, None; M. Altpeter, None; B. Hackney, None; L. F. Callahan, None.