Researchers have found that walking 6,000 or more steps per day helps in minimizing the risk of knee osteoarthritis (OA). While walking is a common daily physical activity for older adults, medical evidence reports that two-thirds of US adults with arthritis walk less than 90 minutes each week. Daniel White, PT, ScD, from Sargent College at Boston University in Massachusetts said that the 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. The researchers measured daily steps taken by 1788 people with or at risk for knee OA, who were part of the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study.
Walking was measured with a monitor over seven days and functional limitation evaluated two years later, defined as a slow walking speed and a Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) physical function score greater than 28 out of 68. Walking an additional 1,000 steps each was associated with between a 16 percent to 18 percent reduction in incident functional limitation two years later, while walking less than 6,000 steps daily was the best threshold for identifying those who developed functional limitation. Dr. White concluded that people who have or are at risk of knee OA, should 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.