The role of enjoyment in exercise for people with arthritis: Four different viewpoints from a Q-methodology study

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There is limited research on the role of enjoyment of exercise among people with arthritis. The aim of the present study was to determine distinct viewpoints on exercise held by people with arthritis, and how enjoyment features in these viewpoints.


A Q-methodology study was conducted, which involved two interviews with people with rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or ankylosing spondylitis (aged 20–85 years). In the first interviews, 11 participants helped to create the Q-set, a set of statements reflecting a range of existing views on exercising. In the second interviews, 12 participants (nine of the 11 from the first interviews and three others) ranked the Q-set on a forced quasi-normal distribution of agreement. A Q-method factor analysis was carried out to determine groupings of participants with similar views on exercise.


Four groupings were discovered, and defined in terms of rankings of statements and illustrative quotes from the ranking procedure. The first grouping had all changed their exercise habits after diagnosis with arthritis. The second grouping had a shared enjoyment for walking to stay healthy. The third grouping's viewpoints focused on knowledge about how much exercise they should carry out. The fourth grouping shared a sense of importance of being responsible for their health by exercising.


These findings provide information about the role that enjoyment plays in motivating people with arthritis to exercise, although enjoyment of exercise was not expressed by all participants. People with arthritis who share these viewpoints on exercise enjoyment may require different forms of advice regarding feasible and enjoyable exercise.

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