Saturday, June 14, 2014

Only 6,000 steps a day will help osteoarthritis of the knee

Lately we've been hearing a lot about taking 10,000 steps per day for a minimum of physical activity. People are using pedometers, smart bracelets and smart phones to keep track of their steps, and pushing to get in at least the 10K. It can be fun and challenging to do this, particularly if you have a sedentary job or lifestyle.

Now there's good news for people who may want to walk more but may not be able to get in the recommended 10K steps: According to a new study published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, as few as 6,000 steps a day may help protect people with or at risk of developing osteoarthritis of the knee from developing problems with movement, such s climbing stairs or even getting up from a chair.

Researchers looked at the daily step count of 1,788 people who either had osteoarthritis of the knee or who were at risk of developing it. They found that for every 1,000 steps taken, there was a 16% to 18% lower reduction in impaired knee movement and 6,000 steps was the best threshold where the differences were significant.

"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. 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," said Daniel White, PT, ScD, in a release.

Osteoarthritis is frequently called the wear-and-tear arthritis. It often affects the joints that that take the brunt of every day life, such as the hips, knees, and feet - although it can happen in other joints as well. The cartilage, which cushions the bones in the joints, deteriorates and this causes pain and joint stiffness. There is no cure for osteoarthritis, although medication and physiotherapy may be helpful. People who are overweight or obese are usually encouraged to lose weight as this can help reduce the pain as well. In severe cases, a joint replacement may be needed.

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