Those suffering from osteoarthritis (OA) in the knees may mistakenly believe they should avoid walking due to the pain felt in that area. However, the more they walk the less risk there is with functional limitations.
A leading cause of limiting everyday functioning from walking to climbing a flight of stairs is OA of the knee. This physical limitation presents a dilemma for anyone who has to deal with the debilitating pain preventing them from doing simple things many of us take for granted such as getting in and out of vehicles to standing while making meals to running errands involving walking.
Unfortunately, less than one third of physicians recommend exercise to their patients with OA. If the physician does recommend exercise it is usually in the form physical therapy which does and can help but once the physical therapy is done, many people with OA abandon any further training once the structured program they were doing is done.
A study published in Arthritis Care and Research wanted to find out if people with OA of the knee did unstructured physical activity on their own in the form of walking, would it provide benefits for the person’s knee.
The researchers used 1,788 participants who either had OA of the knee or were at risk for the condition but with no functional limitation at the start of the study.
What was found the participants who walked at least 6,000 steps a day – measured by an activity monitor over 7 days – were least likely to develop mobility issues two years later. They avoided common everyday activities many of those with OA of the knee experience such as slowed walking, problems getting up from a chair, using stairs, and doing household chores.
The authors concluded that the more steps a day taken by someone with OA of the knee, the greater the protection against developing limitations on basic functioning. It was recommended that if a person is just starting out with a daily walking program, to ease into it by initially having a starting goal of 3,000 steps a day with 6,000 steps a day to be their ideal goal. Walking for OA of the knee is also an inexpensive means of physical activity that most people can do in a variety of settings.