Healthy Knees Could Be Just a Walk Away

Healthy Knees Could Be Just a Walk Away

Do you have knee pain? As an older adult, it’s not uncommon to suffer from knee osteoarthritis. In fact, osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis in adults over the age of 50, affecting some 32.5 million Americans. The risk of developing osteoarthritis increases as we age.

When you have osteoarthritis, the cartilage within your joint breaks down and the underlying bone can change over time. Symptoms include pain, stiffness, and swelling.

But according to a new study published in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology, regular walking can not only reduce the pain but also slow joint damage.

“Until this finding, there has been a lack of credible treatments that provide benefit for both limiting damage and pain in osteoarthritis,” said rheumatologist and lead author of the research, Dr. Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo.

The Study

The study looked at more than 1,000 people over the age of 50 with various amounts of knee pain. Some of these study participants walked for exercise; others did not.

By the end of the study period, 37% of the non-walkers reported new and consistent knee pain. In contrast, only 26% of the walkers reported new pain. The walkers also showed less overall damage in their knees.

"Everyone's always looking for some kind of drug,” said Dr. Lo. “This highlights the importance and likelihood that interventions for osteoarthritis might be something different, including good old exercise."

Other benefits of walking

Exercising doesn’t have to be complicated. On top of being free and accessible for most people, walking as a way to stay fit offers many other benefits as well.

Regular, brisk walking for at least 30 minutes can help:

  • Improve your mood, memory and cognitive function
  • Reduce stress
  • Reduce body fat and support a healthy weight
  • Improve your heart health
  • Increase your energy levels
  • Strengthen your bones
  • Lower high blood pressure and cholesterol
  • Boost muscle strength and endurance
  • Improve balance
  • Control conditions like diabetes and arthritis

The myriad benefits that come with walking make it an easy fitness choice for many older adults.

Get more steps in your day

Need help tricking yourself into walking more throughout the day? Here are a few ways to add more steps to your pedometer:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Get off one stop early from the bus or train and walk the rest of the way
  • Walk in place while watching TV
  • Walk instead of drive to do errands
  • Park in the furthest spot from the store
  • Walk your dog (or a friend’s dog)
  • Have a walking meeting with friends or coworkers
  • Go for a walk while you talk on the phone

With all that walking, don’t forget to drink lots of water and take breaks when necessary. Go at your own (brisk) pace and enjoy!

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