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Step 5. Listen to your body. Now that you are walking more frequently and perhaps more vigorously, "there may be times when it's not a good idea to push it," says Michael Parks, MD, an assistant attending orthopaedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. "Know your limits."

Step 6. Kick it up a notch. Once your daily walks have become a part of your routine, it's time to step things up. "Push it and go a little faster and a little longer," says Kevin D. Plancher, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon in New York City and Cos Cob, Conn., and associate clinical professor in orthopaedics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, N.Y. This is good for your joints and cardiovascular health. "The more you walk, and the faster you walk, the more you are building up the muscles around your damaged joints," he says. "We know if you can tone up certain muscles of the leg you can make a difference in the progression of your OA."

Tip: Increase the intensity by knowing and monitoring your heart rate. Here's how: Check your pulse periodically to make sure you are within your target heart rate, which is generally 50% to 85% of your maximum heart rate. This can be found by subtracting your age from 220. If you are 60, your maximum heart rate is 160, for example. When you start a walking program, aim for 50%. If you have been walking for some time, try to reach 75%. If you have a heart condition, other medical problem or take a medication for high blood pressure, ask your doctor what your target heart rate should be.

 

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