advertisement

Arthritis

03 April 2019

One short, brisk walk a day may keep arthritis at bay

A minimum amount of physical activity may motivate inactive older adults to start a more active lifestyle – which could prevent disability caused by arthritis.

Less than 10 minutes a day of brisk walking can help prevent disability in people with arthritis pain in their knee, hip, ankle or foot, researchers report.

Just one hour a week of brisk physical activity "is less than 10 minutes a day for people to maintain their independence. It's very doable," said lead study author Dorothy Dunlop. She's a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Four years of data

"This minimum threshold may motivate inactive older adults to begin their path toward a physically active lifestyle with the wide range of health benefits promoted by physical activity," Dunlop added in a university news release.

She and her team analysed four years of data from more than 1 500 older adults in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Ohio, and Pawtucket, Rhode Island, who had pain, aching or stiffness in their lower joints from osteoarthritis but were initially free of disability.

The participants' levels of physical activity were monitored using a wearable device.

An hour a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduced their risk of disability, the study found. Specifically, the activity reduced the risk of walking too slowly to safely cross a street by 85%, and their risk of not being able to do daily living activities – for example, morning routine tasks such as walking across a room, bathing and dressing – by nearly 45%.

By the end of the four years, 24% of participants who did not get a weekly hour of brisk physical activity were walking too slowly to safely cross the street, and 23% had difficulty performing their morning routines, according to the study.

One hour a week

About 14 million older Americans have symptomatic knee osteoarthritis, the most common type of osteoarthritis. About two in five people with osteoarthritis – most of whom have it in their lower joints – develop disability.

Federal guidelines recommend low-impact physical activity for older adults with arthritis, and recommend that older adults do at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity activity.

But that amount of activity can be too much for inactive older adults with lower extremity pain, according to Dunlop.

"We hope this new public health finding will motivate an intermediate physical activity goal," she said. "One hour a week is a stepping stone for people who are currently inactive. People can start to work toward that."

The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Image credit: iStock

 

Ask the Expert

Arthritis expert

Professor Asgar Ali Kalla completed his MBChB (Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery) degree in 1975 at the University of Cape Town and his FRCP in 2003 in London. Professor Ali Kalla is the Isaac Albow Chair of Rheumatology at the University of Cape Town and also the Head of Division of Rheumatology at Groote Schuur Hospital. He has participated in a number of clinical trials for rheumatology and is active in community outreach. Prof Ali Kalla is an expert in Arthritis for Health24.

Still have a question?

Get free advice from our panel of experts

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

* You must accept our condition

Forum Rules