Walk with Ease UK – developing a community-based walking programme for adults with arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions

Disease - Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis

Lead applicant - Dr. Kathryn Martin

Organisation - University of Aberdeen

Type of grant - Health Services Research

Status of grant - Active

Amount of the original award - £149,518.60

Start date - 1 March 2017

Reference - 21414

Public Summary

What are the aims of this research?

The benefits of physical activity on health are undisputed yet physical inactivity remains a major public health challenge throughout the UK. Walk with ease is a community-based walking programme (developed in the United States) specifically designed for people with arthritis/musculoskeletal conditions. This study aims to determine how walk with ease will need to be modified before it could be implemented in the UK, and to gauge the feasibility of conducting a trial to evaluate the programme’s effectiveness.

Why is this research important?

Despite associated physical and mental health benefits, individuals with arthritis/musculoskeletal conditions are less active than those without. They often report pain, fatigue, stiffness and activity limitations, which make engaging in and increasing physical activity especially challenging. Walking is a safe, easy, and inexpensive activity that can be a means for most adults to achieve currently recommended levels of exercise.

Walk with ease has been shown to be effective in reducing arthritis-related symptoms and improving physical function when delivered in either a group or self-directed format. While the programme has been a success in the US, the programme must be adapted to ensure the relevance and adoption of walk with ease in a UK setting.

The researchers will also assess the feasibility of conducting a larger scale clinical trial. This could then allow the team to identify strategies to ensure that it can be more widely implemented and integrated within an existing UK health and social care setting.

How will the findings benefit patients?

Walk with ease has the potential for future implementation by the NHS as a prescribed treatment for arthritis/musculoskeletal conditions. This would positively transform health and quality of life for people with arthritis/musculoskeletal conditions, giving them greater control to better self-manage their condition with increased physical activity.