In a new study, researchers found just one hour of brisk walk every week could help cut disability in older people with arthritis pain and stiffness in joints.
The finding suggests that regular physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and could protect people’s health.
The research was conducted by researchers from Northwestern Medicine.
It is estimated that 14 million older adults in the U.S. have knee osteoarthritis, which is the most common form of arthritis in the knee.
The disease is a degenerative, “wear-and-tear” type of arthritis that often happens in people 50 years of age and older. In patients, the cartilage in the knee joint gradually wears away.
Many people develop disability when they have the condition for a long time, and it is important to find an effective way to prevent this from happening.
In the study, the team examined how walking could influence disability in knee osteoarthritis.
They examined four years of data from more than 1,500 adults in the national Osteoarthritis Initiative from Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
All of the people had pain or stiffness in their knees but were free of disability when they began the study.
The researchers monitored their physical activity with accelerometers.
After four years, the researchers found that one hour of weekly moderate exercise helped the older people keep their ability to perform daily tasks effectively.
The weekly hour of exercise cut the risk of disability, such as walking too slowly to safely cross a street, by 85%.
It also cut the risk of daily living disability, such as difficulty in walking across a room, bathing and dressing, by almost 45%.
On the contrary, 24% of adults who did not do the weekly hour of exercise walked too slowly to safely cross the street, and 23% complained problems doing their morning routine.
The researchers suggest that regular physical activity could protect overall health in older people with arthritis.
It doesn’t require too much time. Less than 10 minutes a day can help people maintain their independence.
The finding may motivate inactive older people to change their lifestyle and be more physically active.
The current federal guidelines recommend older adults with arthritis should participate in a low-impact activity.
Healthy older adults participate should do at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity activity to protect their heart health.
The team hopes this new public health finding will motivate an intermediate physical activity goal.
The lead author of the study is Dorothy Dunlop, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The study is published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
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