Do you have stiff, achy, painful joints? You’re not alone. An estimated 54 million adults are living with this chronic condition: arthritis.
Arthritis steals movement and sometimes the things you love to do, but you can get it back. Exercise is one of the best ways to improve pain, stiffness, and decreased range of motion, which are common symptoms of arthritis. Many people with arthritis think exercise will be painful—probably because they’ve tried and it was. But we know through research that people with arthritis can exercise without worsening their pain.
It isn’t easy. Arthritis is a pretty complicated condition. Once arthritis moves into the joint, muscles surrounding the joint become weakened. This leads to a ripple effect of joint pain and muscle weakness because all of your body’s muscles and joints are connected.
If you’ve tried to exercise and stopped because of pain, consider working with a physical therapist (PT) who can work with you to develop a customized, safe, and effective strengthening and conditioning program that helps reduces your pain, not add to it, and improves your mobility and function. That’s right—exercise shouldn’t hurt if you have arthritis.
Generally, people with arthritis need to increase their exercise routines more gradually than someone without it. A PT will partner with you to develop a program tailored specifically to your level of function and your goals. Walking, cycling, and swimming are great forms of cardiovascular exercise, but strength training and stretching are equally important. The trick is to perform these exercises with the right form and posture and for the right duration (time) and intensity (repetition).
Walking 6,000 Steps a Day May Improve Knee Arthritis
The benefits of walking are widely known and continually proven. Adding to the vast body of literature touting the benefits of walking, a recent study found that walking 6,000 steps a day—the equivalent of 1 hour— may help improve knee arthritis and prevent disability.
In the study, published in Arthritis & Care Research (“” – June 12, 2014), nearly 1,800 adults who had or were at risk for knee arthritis had their steps counted over a week using a pedometer. Two years later, the researchers reassessed participants and discovered that for each additional 1,000 steps taken, functional limitations were reduced 16%-18%.