Take a Walk to Decrease Risk of Knee Osteoarthritis

Senior couple holding hands and walking in park
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If you have knee pain due to osteoarthritis (OA), then you may understand how your pain can limit your ability to walk, run, rise from a chair, and engage in normal recreational and work activities.  There are many different treatments for knee OA including physical therapy exercises, injections, and surgery.

We've all heard the adage, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  So is there a way to prevent knee OA?

 Are there things that you can do to help decrease the likelihood that you will suffer from knee OA?

There may be.

It has been proven that movement and exercise can help prevent knee pain from osteoarthritis.  Your physical therapist can teach you the proper exercises to perform to treat knee OA and prevent episodes of knee pain due to OA.

One of the simplest exercises to do to help manage and prevent knee OA is walking.  That's right, studies indicate that walking has been shown to decrease the incidence of knee OA.  A recent study in 2014 showed that people who walked more were less likely to suffer from functional limitations due to knee OA.

The study included over 1,700 participants with knee OA or who were at risk for knee OA.  They wore a monitor to assess how much they walked for one week, and then they were followed for two years to assess functional mobility limitations due to knee OA.

 Those who walked at least 6000 steps per day seemed to benefit most from walking and had less functional disability due to knee pain.

Other studies comparing walking and strengthening exercises for the quadriceps show that walking is an effective exercise to help reduce knee pain and disability.  When compared to not exercising at all, both walking and quadriceps strengthening exercises were favorable for reducing knee pain.

 Bottom line: walking can be an excellent choice to help maintain knee function and decrease pain if you have knee OA.

So if you think that you need access to special pieces of exercise equipment to help your knee pain, think again.  A simple walk may help decrease your pain or decrease your chances of suffering from knee OA.

If you are new to exercise or if you have a specific injury to your knee, you should contact your doctor and visit your physical therapist to be sure that a walking program is right for you.  Check out this simple guide to starting a walking program by About.com's walking Expert, Wendy Bumgardner.

Sources:  Roddy, E, etal. "Aerobic walking or strengthening exercise for osteoarthritis of the knee? A systematic review."  Ann Rheum Dis 2005; 64: 544-548.

White, D, etal. "Daily walking and the risk of incident functional limitation in knee OA: An observational study."  Arthritis Care and Research. Online, June 12,  2014.

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