Osteoarthritis (OA) is a common
chronic condition among older adults that limits physical
activity and is a risk factor for related disabilities.
Research has proven that arthritis-associated muscle
weakness and endurance can be minimized or reversed with
regular exercise. The Fit & Strong!®
program was developed to assist older adults with lower
extremity OA to improve mobility and maintain independent
functioning. The program combines 2 components shown
effective for OA: physical activity and behavioral health
The Fit & Strong! design focuses on affordability, easy
replication, and involves an eight-week physical
activity/behavior change program for older adults.
In 2017, the National Council on Aging approved the
program as an
evidence-based fall prevention approach. As of August
2020, the program is offered in many locations throughout
32 states, including several rural communities, and the
District of Columbia.
In recent years, researchers have expanded the program
and created a new program, Fit & Strong! Plus. This
program combines interventions proven successful in prior
studies: physical activity and weight management.
In response to COVID-19 — and as a way to better reach
rural older adults — under development is a fully
online/remote adaptation of Fit & Strong! with
anticipated availability in the next 4 to 8 months.
Fit & Strong! offers online instructor training for new
instructors. The asynchronous online training consists of
5 modules and uses videos, slides, pictures, and
interactive test questions. The online training can be
taken by instructors anywhere they have an internet
Created by teams at the of Illinois at Chicago School
of Public Health's Institute for Research and Health
Policy, funding for the original program's
development was provided by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the
National Institute on Aging, the Arthritis Foundation,
and The Retirement Research Foundation.