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Fit & Strong! Works – Here’s the Evidence

Fit & Strong! has been tested through randomized controlled trials and has shown to improve lower extremity (LE) pain, stiffness function, strength, and mobility; self-efficacy for exercise adherence, arthritis management, and physical activity engagement.

Fit & Strong! was first tested for efficacy in a randomized control trial of 215 participants with rheumatologist diagnosed osteoarthritis over 12 months, finding several statistically improvements in the Fit & Strong! group at 2 months (end of classes) that were maintained out to 12 months with very strong effect sizes. See tables below for outcomes and effect sizes.

Efficacy Outcomes Table

This efficacy study showed that Fit & Strong! benefited participants (compared to those in the non-treatment group) at 2, 6, and 12 months with very strong effect sizes and produced no untoward outcomes, or injuries. These findings were published in two papers that can be read here:

Efficacy Study Hughes 2004

Hughes, S. L., Seymour, R. B., Campbell, R., Pollak, N., Huber, G., & Sharma, L. (2004). Impact of the fit and strong intervention on older adults with osteoarthritis. The Gerontologist, 44(2), 217–228.

Efficacy Study Hughes 2006

Hughes, S. L., Seymour, R. B., Campbell, R. T., Huber, G., Pollak, N., Sharma, L., & Desai, P. (2006). Long-term impact of fit and strong! on older adults with osteoarthritis. The Gerontologist, 46(6), 801–814.

An effectiveness trial was also conducted from 2003-2008 to test ways to reinforce physical activity after Fit & Strong! ended. This trial reached 536 adult participants across 7 Chicago Department on Aging Senior Centers and follow participants for 18 months after completing Fit & Strong!

Several statistically significant improvements were found in this diverse population of community-dwelling older adults:

Effectiveness Outcomes Table

These findings matter because diminished lower extremity strength is a risk factor for falls (Sherrington et al., 2008), impaired mobility is an independent risk factor for mortality (Studenski et al., 2011), and, walking speed decreases with age.  Fit & Strong! reverses this trend in groups at high risk for disability at enrollment and shows significant improved LE strength and mobility out to 18 months.

Read the findings of the effectiveness trial here:

Effectiveness Study Hughes 2010

Hughes, S. (2010). Fit and strong: Bolstering maintenance of physical activity among older adults with lower-extremity osteoarthritis. American Journal of Health Behavior, 34(6).

The research studies cited above were funded by:
P30 Midwest Roybal Center For Health Promotion & Behavior Change (AG022849))
National Institute on Aging Midwest Roybal Center for Health Maintenance (P50AG15890)