Walking 6,000 Steps a Day May Help Improve Knee Arthritis

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Osteoarthritis Knee

A new study shows that walking 6,000 steps, the equivalent of an hour a day may help improve knee arthritis and prevent disability.

The study, funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal, Arthritis Care & Research suggests that walking 6,000 or more steps per day may protect those with or at risk of knee of OA from developing mobility issues, such as difficulty getting up from a chair and climbing stairs.

Researchers used pedometers to track the daily steps of 1,788 participants aged 50 to 79 for seven days. Two years later, researchers evaluated participants’ functional ability by testing their walking speed, as well as collecting self-reported data on participants’ ability to perform everyday tasks like climbing stairs, getting out of a chair, and performing household activities. Those who walked 6,000 steps or more per day experienced fewer functional limitations compared to those who walked less. And for each 1,000 daily steps participants walked, their limitations dropped by 18%.

“People with or at risk for knee arthritis should be walking around 6,000 steps per day, and the more walking one does the less risk of developing functioning difficulties,” said the study’s lead author, Daniel White, a research assistant professor in the department of physical therapy and athletic training at Boston University.

“People usually average 100 steps per minute while they walk, so (6,000 steps) is roughly walking an hour a day,” White said. “It doesn’t seem to make a difference where the steps come from.”

For each additional 1,000 steps people took daily, their chance of these problems dropped by 16 percent to 18 percent. The findings were similar when the researchers looked separately at people who had been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, and also at those who had symptoms from their condition.

Dr. White concludes, “Walking is an inexpensive activity and despite the common popular goal of walking 10,000 steps per day, our study finds only 6,000 steps are necessary to realize benefits. We encourage those with or at risk of knee OA to walk at least 3,000 or more steps each day, and ultimately progress to 6,000 steps daily to minimize the risk of developing difficulty with mobility.”

Nearly 27 million Americans aged 25 and older have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

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