Physical activity helps improve walking speed in those with osteoarthritis

MedPage Today reported that, according to a paper in Arthritis & Rheumatism, “increasing physical activity over two years can improve function and even walking speed among adults with osteoarthritis of the knee — regardless of their level of activity.”

The “ongoing cohort study of more than 2,500 patients with knee osteoarthritis (knee OA) found that the average gait speed — an objective measure of functional performance — was 4 feet/second among patients reporting the lowest quartile of physical activity, compared with 4.2, 4.3, and 4.5 feet/second (P for trend <0.001) among quartiles with increasing activity levels.”

The team at Northwestern University also pointed out that “this graded relationship between physical activity and walking speed was similar across sex and age groups, and persisted after one year (P<0.001 for all).”

This is strong evidence that even a small increase in activity is related to better walking function. The bar for improvement isn’t that high. This should motivate people to get moving, even if they have pain or stiffness.

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