Study: 6,000 steps a day keeps knee OA limitations awayJuly 8, 2014
Walking 6,000 steps or more each day might protect adults at risk of knee osteoarthritis from developing mobility issues, such as difficulty getting up from a chair and climbing stairs, according to a new study.
The study, which was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, examined whether walking could reduce the risk of functional limitations for people with knee OA. The findings were published June 12 on the website of the American College of Rheumatology journal, Arthritis Care & Research.
Nearly 27 million Americans age 25 and older are diagnosed with OA according to a prevalence study published in 2008 in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show 80% of OA patients have some limitation in movement, with 11% of adults with knee OA needing assistance with personal care assistance.
Even though walking is a common daily activity for older adults, research has found two-thirds of adults with arthritis walk less than 90 minutes per week.
“Our study examines if more walking equates with better functioning, and if so, how much daily walking is needed to minimize risk of developing problems with mobility in people with knee OA,” co-author Daniel White, PT, ScD, of Sargent College at Boston University in Massachusetts, said in a news release.
For the study, researchers measured daily steps taken by 1,788 people with knee OA or at risk for it, who were part of the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study. The average age of study participants was 67, average body mass index was 31 kg/m2, and 60% were female.
Walking was measured with a monitor for seven days. Researchers evaluated functional limitation two years later, defined as a slow walking speed (1 meter/second or slower) and a Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index physical function score greater than 28 out of 68.
The findings showed walking an additional 1,000 steps each day was associated with a 16% reduction in incident functional limitation based on gait speed and an 18% reduction based on the WOMAC score. Walking fewer than 6,000 steps daily was the best threshold for identifying those who developed functional limitation, researchers found.
“Walking is an inexpensive activity and despite the common popular goal of walking 10,000 steps per day, our study finds only 6,000 steps are necessary to realize benefits,” White said in the release. “We encourage those with or at risk of knee OA to walk at least 3,000 or more steps each day and ultimately progress to 6,000 steps daily to minimize the risk of developing difficulty with mobility.”