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Did you know that 14-21 May marked Arthritis Care Awareness Week? In the Spring issue of Fitpro magazine, we spoke to Kevin Morris, senior lifestyle coach at Everybody Sport & Recreation, on how to create an effective workout circuit. Here, Morris shares further insight into how he thinks the medical and fitness industry should be linking up.

So, how effectively is the fitness industry linking up with the medical industry to provide exercise solutions? In response, Morris said, “From my observations, it is currently a one-way transfer of information by the medical industry sending a referral form into an exit strategy scheme. Fitness professionals need to be present in medical environments as well as the community to help build up trust in both the clients and health professionals.”

He added, “This could also work by having medical professionals (physios) working within a leisure centre environment where the client and health professional has access to a purpose-built exercise environment, has more options of fitness modes (land/water based), and can begin to build up a rapport with the fitness professional who will be working with them in the longer term.”

Morris believes that the medical industry should consider more commissioned services, which will set KPIs, to help encourage more communication between the fitness and medical industry. This, in turn, may improve patient outcomes. The lifestyle coach would like to see the fitness industry having suitable monitoring and data-holding systems – such as ‘Refer-All’ – where clients’ details are securely kept and information is readily available to show the impact the service has had.

How exercise could help

Your client may want to start on some of the general exercises and then move on to those that focus on building strength and control in their most affected joint. It is important to remember that it’s common to ache when they have not exercised for a long time, or if they are doing something new. This is different to the aches and pains they will experience with their long-term joint pain. Also, it is not an indicator of harm to their joints; muscular pain may last a little longer and can come a day or two after exercising. During exercising, if your client feels different pain from their normal pain, they must consult with their health professional.

In relation to recent research advancements, Adrienne Skelton, director of policy, health and social care improvement at Versus Arthritis, said, “Research has highlighted the important role that exercise can play in reducing pain and increasing function in people with OA. We supported Professor Mike Hurley at St George’s, University of London, to develop an exercise intervention programme called ‘Enabling Self-management and Coping with Arthritis Pain through Exercise’ – or ESCAPE-pain. ESCAPE-pain is a six-week programme of integrated exercise and self-management delivered in a group setting by a physiotherapist. It has been shown to reduce pain, improve physical function, increase quality of life and general well-being, and reduce the use of healthcare services and medication. The Health Innovation Network provides the training, resources and support to implement ESCAPE-pain, and the programme is being successfully rolled out across the UK. Find out more at:


Top tips for designing your own circuit:

  • Avoid high-impact activities
  • Ensure your client is appropriately dressed, from wearing the right footwear (comfortable) to even having the right insoles
  • Go for cross-training methods to vary joint stress and to avoid excessive repetitions of the same joint
  • Avoid fast-paced activities or those with excessive changes of direction
  • If joint pain or swelling appears, DON’T STOP EXERCISING; reduce intensity and duration or look to change the mode of activity (i.e. to water based)

If you have any concerns, the client should be referred back to their GP for further investigation.

If you’re planning to work with a client who has osteoarthritis, a good place to start is to investigate what could have contributed to the degeneration of the joint. Although the causes are not currently known, strong evidence shows there are some factors that contribute to the condition. Investigating these factors will help you to design a bespoke exercise prescription. For example, if your client is overweight, you’re going to want to avoid any full-bodyweight activities and look to prescribe some partial-bodyweight activities such as the exercise bike or seated exercises.

As mentioned, Kevin Morris provided a detailed circuit workout in the Spring issue of Fitpro magazine. If you aren’t a member and would like to view this, sign up today at:


For more information on the topic of exercise and arthritis, please visit:

Where next? Watch the ESCAPE Pain video HERE