For people who have osteoarthritis that affects their lower limbs, it may feel contrary to walk as exercise. It’s valid to think that it might increase pain and other unwelcome effects of this degenerative condition.
But a new study shows, in fact, that a certain amount of walking can actually reduce how much knee osteoarthritis limits your ability to keep moving.
Walking 6,000 or more steps a day may help protect people who have knee OA from having problems with mobility — think of being able to do activities such as going up the stairs or rising from a chair.
The study was conducted by researchers at Sargent College at Boston University and was published in Arthritis Care & Research earlier this year. Researchers noted that 80 percent of OA patients find their movement to be hampered. The researchers sought to learn if more walking would bring about better functioning and, if so, how much more walking.
While boosting one’s daily step count by 1,000 did show an improvement in function (about 18 percent), the optimal benchmark to shoot for seems to be at least 6,000 steps.
That amount of steps equals roughly 2.5 to 3 miles, which might sound like a lot. But you’d be surprised how fast steps add up. It’s easy to jack up your total, by doing things like parking a bit further away at the supermarket, using the bathroom at the other end of the office, or adding an extra block to your usual stroll.
Your knees will thank you.
(And thanks to a loyal reader of Walk With Joelle for the story idea.)