Knee Osteoarthritis No Excuse to Skip Physical Activity

Knee Osteoarthritis No Excuse to Skip Physical Activity

Although nearly half of all adults over the age of 65 have doctor-diagnosed arthritis[i], there is no reason to limit physical activity, according to research presented in November at the 2016 American College of Rheumatology (ACR) Annual Meeting. What’s troubling is the generally low level of physical activity among older adults – with and without knee osteoarthritis (OA).[ii] For example, of men who are 60-69 years of age, only half without knee OA and 60% with knee OA are walking more than 10 minutes a day. Women of similar age are walking even less: only 35% of women with or without knee OA are walking for 10 minutes or more each day. This study also showed that walking rates declined further as people get older. Knee Osteoarthritis No Excuse to Skip Physical Activity
Committing to a physically active lifestyle provides major health benefits to everyone, and it even improves symptoms for people with knee OA.[iii] For many people living with OA, the fear of pain or a belief that knee OA symptoms will worsen with exercise keep them from getting an adequate amount of physical activity. But those who choose to increase their exercise in spite of OA have research to support them.
A new observational study presented at the ACR meeting found that most people with knee OA were able to walk the 6,000 daily steps they needed to improve their condition and prevent disability. They were also able to perform the sit-to-stand test (repeating the motion five times) in an average of 10.2 seconds. This is meaningful because 10.2 seconds is below the rate that is associated with a fall risk in older adults (12 seconds). The researchers concluded that when OA patients understand how much ability is necessary to be active, they will be open to finding personalized ways to improve their activity levels.[iv] Even replacing 5 minutes of sedentary time with light activity improves outcomes in knee OA patients. [v]
If you have OA, there are simple ways to become more active while working up to a more formal exercise program.

  • Park farther away – Instead of finding the closest parking spot at the movie theatre or grocery store, pick a spot farther away to increase your walking time.
  • Take the stairs – If you only need to go up one or two floors, consider skipping the elevator and taking the stairs. Just make sure to use the rail for support as needed.
  • Find a buddy – Ask your spouse or a friend to commit to walking around your neighborhood or a local mall or track at a nearby high school 3 to 4 times per week. Bundle up if it’s cold and always bring water to stay hydrated.
  • Seek professional support – Local gyms and community centers (such as YMCAs or JCCs) offer personal training and can you develop a step-by-step plan to increase physical activity and improve function with OA.

There are over 50 million Americans with arthritis. To learn more or read the stories of other people managing arthritis, visit CreakyJoints® is the go-to source for more than 100,000 arthritis patients and their families world-wide who are seeking education, support, advocacy and patient-centered research.
By W. Benjamin Nowell, Ph.D., Director of Patient-Centered Research, CreakyJointsKnee Osteoarthritis No Excuse to Skip Physical Activity Knee Osteoarthritis No Excuse to Skip Physical Activity
[i] Barbour KE, Helmick CG, Theis KA, Murphy LB, Hootman JM, Brady TJ, et al. Prevalence of Doctor-Diagnosed Arthritis and Arthritis-Attributable Activity Limitation — United States, 2010–2012. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2013;62(44):869-873. PubMed PMID: 24196662. Accessed via on January 9, 2017
[ii] Thoma L, Tudor-Locke C, Aguiar E, Master H, Christiansen M, White D. Comparison of Objectively Measured Physical Activity Among People with Symptomatic Knee Osteoarthritis with the General US Population [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2016; 68 (suppl 10). Accessed January 9, 2017.
[iii] Fransen M, McConnell S, Harmer AR, Van der Esch M, Simic M, Bennell KL. Exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, Issue 1. Art. No.: CD004376. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD004376.pub3.
[iv] Master H, Thoma L, Christiansen M, Polakowski E, Schmitt L, White D. Minimum Physical Function Needed to Walk 6000 Steps/Day in People with Knee Osteoarthritis [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2016; 68 (suppl 10). Accessed January 10, 2017.
[v] White D. Protective Effects of Replacing Sedentary Time with Light and Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on Functional Limitation in Knee OA [abstract]. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2016; 68 (suppl 10). Accessed January 9, 2017.

Knee Osteoarthritis No Excuse to Skip Physical Activity

About the Author

Kimberly Johnson

As Director of Sales and Marketing, Kimberly Johnson is passionate about providing Seniors with the resources and products to live well.  Kimberly is a seasoned caregiver to her family and breast cancer survivor.  Her father battled ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease and she was a primary caregiver.  Today Kimberly lives in Southern California near her 104-year-old grandmother, widowed mother, a mentally disabled sister and second sister who is also a breast cancer survivor.  She is happily married to her husband of 24 years and they have 3 children.

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