Knee osteoarthritis is a growing concern as more people live longer, because it is the leading cause of functional limitation among older adults, making walking and climbing stairs difficult. While walking is a common daily physical activity for older adults, studies report that two-thirds of American adults with arthritis walk less than 90 minutes each week. Daniel K. White, from Boston University (Massachusetts, USA), and colleagues measured daily steps taken by 1788 people with or at risk for knee osteoarthritis, who were part of the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study. Walking was measured with a monitor over seven days and functional limitation evaluated two years later, defined as a slow walking speed and a Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) physical function score greater than 28 out of 68. Walking an additional 1,000 steps each was associated with between a 16% to 18% reduction in incident functional limitation two years later. Walking less than 6,000 steps daily was the best threshold for identifying those who developed functional limitation. Observing that: “More walking was associated with less risk of functional limitation over two years,” the study authors encourage that: “ Walking [at least] 6000 steps/day provides a preliminary estimate of the level of walking activity to protect against developing functional limitation in people with or at risk of knee [osteoarthritis].”
Daniel K. White, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Yuqing Zhang, Roger Fielding, Michael LaValley, David T. Felson, et al. “Daily walking and the risk of incident functional limitation in knee OA: An observational study.” Arthritis Care & Research, DOI: 10.1002/acr.22362.
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