Daily walking 'does not have a negative impact on knee osteoarthritis'
Published on 19 June 2015
A new study has offered fresh evidence that taking regular walks does not carry any risk for knee osteoarthritis patients of making their condition worse.
The international research collaboration, which included contributions from the Arthritis Research UK Epidemiology Unit at the University of Manchester, aimed to investigate the association between daily walking and knee structural changes - defined either as radiographic worsening or cartilage loss - in people at risk of or with knee osteoarthritis.
A total of 1,179 participants were assessed over a period of 84 months, with radiography and magnetic resonance imaging used to evaluate joint health. Data on walking with moderate to vigorous intensity were associated to structural changes using various models of analysis.
The average age of the patients was 67 years, with a mean body mass index of 29.8 kg per sq m. The participants, of whom 59 per cent were women, walked an average of 6,981 steps per day.
According to results published in the Journal of Rheumatology, no significant associations could be found between daily walking and radiographic worsening or cartilage loss.
Moreover, additional time spent walking at a moderate to vigorous intensity was not associated with either radiographic worsening or cartilage loss.
The researchers concluded that these findings "indicated no association between daily walking and structural changes over two years in the knees of people at risk of or with mild knee osteoarthritis".
An Arthritis Research UK spokesperson said: "Physical activity is important to keep your muscles and joints strong, supple and most importantly moving. A wide range of exercises have been recommended and shown to be beneficial in reducing overall risk of pain and disability, including walking, swimming, cycling and running. Keeping active also helps to maintain a healthy weight, which can reduce your risk of developing the disease in the first place, as well as relieve existing symptoms and help to prevent further deterioration.
"Although we acknowledge that being active can be difficult for those living with arthritis, we strongly encourage people to ensure that they maintain a good level of physical activity."