Physical Activity & Nutrition and 5 more...less...

Arthritis & Osteoporosis

Vermont Department of Health - Physical Activity & Nutrition


Chronic Disease Prevention

Chronic Disease Prevention

# of municipal strategies completed to increase access to physical activity.

219HY2 2019

Line Bar
Story Behind the Curve

Last Updated: November 2020

Author: Physical Activity & Nutrition Program, Vermont Department of Health


This performance measure documents the number of municipal projects completed (bi-annual count) that improve access to physical activity as reported by Vermont Department of Health Office of Local Health staff who support leaders in their communities to implement evidence based strategies toward that goal.. Examples of projects completed:

  • Newport City Plan adopted with health supporting language
  • Five ‘pedestrian activated’ lights installed at busiest crosswalks outside of downtown Brattleboro
  • Trail improvements completed on West River Trail (WRT) in Brattleboro
  • Health Impact Assessments (HIAs) addressing ways to increase access to physical activity during redevelopment projects completed and disseminated in Milton and Burlington’s South End

These efforts can yield an important benefit for Vermonters to reduce the incidence and severity of chronic diseases, including arthritis. Physical activity can reduce the risk of the four major chronic diseases of heart disease and stroke, certain cancers, diabetes and arthritis and improve the health of those living with those diseases. It can reduce the pain and improve function, mobility, and quality of life for most adults with many types of arthritis including osteoarthritis. Physical activity can also help people with arthritis manage other chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Most people with arthritis can safely participate in a self-directed physical activity program. This strategy helps to provide safe spaces for Vermonters to engage in physical activity.

What Works

Efforts to increase the walkability of our communities will encourage and support physical activity for all Vermonters. According to both the CDC's Recommended Community Strategies to Prevent Obesity and the Guide to Community Preventive Services, environmental changes to improve access, safety, and attractiveness of places to be physically active are evidence based strategies for reducing rates of overweight and obesity and increasing rates of physical activity. These strategies are among the most sustainable ways to make long term, population based impacts.

For Arthritis:

Arthritis is the nation's most common cause of disability. There is a greater burden of arthritis in Vermont than nationally, in part due to our aging population with 28% of Vermont adults reporting having arthritis vs. 25% of all U.S. adults. Arthritis limits the activities of nearly half of Vermont adults with this chronic condition.

Among U.S. adults with arthritis, nearly half (47%) have at least one other disease or condition. In addition, 49% of adults with heart disease, 47% of those with diabetes, 44% of those with high blood pressure, and 31% of those who are obese also have arthritis.[i]

Contrary to popular belief among many with arthritis and osteoporosis, exercise is important for controlling the symptoms of arthritis. Walking, bicycling, and swimming can have many benefits that include less pain and better physical function, mental health, and quality of life. Maintaining a healthy weight is a key factor in reducing the risk of developing osteoarthritis. Physical activity can also help manage other chronic conditions that are common among adults with arthritis, such as diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The CDC recommends the following for adults with arthritis:

  • 2 hours and 30 minutes (150 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week OR
  • 1 hour 15 minutes (75 minutes) of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week OR
  • an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activity.


  • Muscle strengthening exercises on 2 or more days per week.
  • Balance exercises on 3 days per week if at risk of falling.

[i] National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

Action Plan

The Vermont Department of Health identifies specific strategies for Vermont communities to implement, and provides technical assistance, such as training and sharing best practice, to help support community efforts.

The specific strategies are: increase mixed use development practices in municipalities; increase or improve access to bicycle and pedestrian facilities; improve access to parks, recreation and open space.

The Vermont Department of Health will continue to support these efforts by providing leadership and expertise on how communities can embed these strategies into all of their planning and development projects and by continuing to identify and share models that work in rural communities.

Scorecard Result Container Indicator Measure Action Actual Value Target Value Tag S R I P PM A m/d/yy m/d/yyyy