For arthritis sufferers, it’s a Catch-22: joints hurt so you don’t want to move but moving regularly makes your joints hurt less.
You know that movement and exercise are good and necessary but the conventional wisdom of “10,000 steps a day” is daunting.
Here’s a bit of relief: six thousand steps a day is enough to achieve adequate movement to realize benefit in the joints, according to a newly-released study.
In the study, 1788 people with—or at risk of developing—osteoarthritis of the knee were given pedometers and monitored over a two-year period. Daily number of steps was measured along with knee joint mobility:
“We evaluated the association of steps/day at baseline with developing functional limitation two years later by calculating risk ratios adjusted for potential confounders…More walking was associated with less risk of functional limitation over two years. Walking ≥ 6000 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 OA [osteoarthritis].”
You probably walk more than you think you do. Walking isn’t just taking the dog around the block or power-walking at lunchtime; it’s moving around the kitchen while preparing dinner, going to the mailbox, walking to a meeting down the hall.
A simple pedometer that you clip on can tell you how much you walk in a normal day—the number may surprise you. Use that as a starting point and work up to as much as you can, making a minimum of six thousand steps per day as your goal. If you can do more than that, great.
Take it slowly and if it hurts afterward, scale it back a little until you can move a greater distance (and with greater speed, if you can!) without pain. You’ll find the more you move, the more you can move. There are remedies and natural supports for joint pain that will help you ease yourself into greater activity—don’t be afraid to use them. Sesame seeds specifically have been found to be more effective than acetaminophen (Tylenol) for knee pain relief.
There are other exercises that are especially good for people with arthritis, like tai chi, swimming, or water aerobics. What makes regular exercise so critical to arthritis sufferers is that muscle strength and healthy connective tissue support the joints; if the areas surrounding the joints atrophy, joints become more stiff and painful.
Our bodies were meant to move. It is sometimes easier to fall into a sedentary habit but this will cause health problems in one form or another, without fail. Move as much as you can whenever you can for not only joint, but overall, health.