(HealthDay News) — More walking can protect against the functional limitation associated with knee osteoarthritis, according to a study published online June 12 in Arthritis Care & Research.

Daniel K. White, PT, ScD, from Boston University, and colleagues examined whether walking protects against the development of functional limitations associated with knee osteoarthritis. Data were obtained for 1,788 participants (mean age, 67 years; mean body mass index, 31kg/m²) with or at risk of knee osteoarthritis from the Multicenter Osteoarthritis Study. The authors objectively measured walking over seven days as steps/day and examined the correlation with developing functional limitation two years later, defined according to performance-based and self-report measures.

The researchers observed a 16 and 18% reduction in incident functional limitation by performance-based and self-report measures, respectively, for each additional 1,000 steps/day. The best thresholds to distinguish incident functional limitation by performance-based and self-report measures were <6,000 and <5,900 steps/day, with sensitivity and specificity of 67.3 and 71.8% and 58.7 and 68.9%, respectively.

“More walking was associated with less risk of functional limitation over two years,” the authors write. “Walking ≥6,000 steps/day provides a preliminary estimate of the level of walking activity to protect against developing functional limitation in people with or at risk of knee osteoarthritis.”

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