Can 6,000 Steps a Day Keep Knee Arthritis at Bay?
Study links one hour of walking daily with improved mobility
Two years later the researchers assessed any arthritis-related functional limitations. They found that for every 1,000 steps taken, functional limitations were reduced 16 percent to 18 percent.
Walking not only builds muscle strength and flexibility, it also helps reduce arthritic pain, White and other experts say.
"This study just adds to the vast amount of research and common sense that tells us we need to get off our fannies and out the door," said Samantha Heller, an exercise physiologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.
Walking "is free and you already know how to do it," she added. "With a good pair of athletic shoes and appropriate attire, you can walk just about any time of year."
Heller said she has patients who say they can't walk because their knees, hips or other joints hurt. "What I explain to them is the less one moves, the weaker the muscles get, and the less stable the joints are, increasing inflammation and pain," she said.
"Sitting around also increases the risk of weight gain, which can adversely affect joints," Heller added.
Pedometers and cellphone apps that measure steps are widely available today, White and Heller noted.
"Pick up a pedometer or get an app to help you see just how many steps you take each day," Heller suggested.
Dr. Natalie Azar, a clinical assistant professor in the departments of medicine and rheumatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, suggested that the new study findings might help encourage people to become more active.
"Overall, this is excellent data on the benefits of moderate exercise and active living on quality of life for people with or at risk for arthritis," Azar said. "It's another piece of literature I will use to convince my patients to move."