Dr. Arthritis Shares: Here’s Why You Should Make an Effort to Exercise

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You know how they say ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away?’ For arthritis sufferers, less than 10 minutes of brisk walking a day can actually keep the doctor away.

This is according to a new study led by Dorothy Dunlop, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. Her findings say that an hour a week of brisk walking, which is roughly less than 10 minutes of daily walking, is enough physical activity to prevent disability in people who experience arthritis pain in their knee, hip, ankle, or foot.

“This minimum threshold may motivate inactive older adults to begin their path toward a physically active lifestyle with the wide range of health benefits promoted by physical activity,” Dunlop said.

The conclusion was based on data spanning a four year study involving 1,500 older adults who suffered from common arthritis symptoms such as joint pain, aching or stiffness in their lower joints but were initially free of disability.

The participants’ levels of physical activity were monitored using a wearable device An hour a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reduced their risk of disability, the study found. Specifically, the activity reduced the risk of walking too slowly to safely cross a street by 85 percent, and their risk of not being able to do daily living activities — for example, morning routine tasks such as walking across a room, bathing and dressing — by nearly 45 percent.

By the end of the four years, 24 percent of participants who did not get a weekly hour of brisk physical activity were walking too slowly to safely cross the street, and 23 percent had difficulty performing their morning routines, according to the study.

We’ve always been advocates of physical activity as a way to manage your arthritis symptoms. And the results of this study underscore the kind of impact even minimal physical activity has on arthritis.

That said, we also know that even this amount of physical activity can be too much for arthritis sufferers who have been inactive since their diagnosis. Hopefully however, 10 minutes a day of low-impact physical activity can be a stepping-stone that urges more people to get moving and stay active. Keep yourself motivated by inviting others arthritis sufferers in your community to walk with you; ask family or friends to join you; and don’t be afraid to use tools or aids such as compression sleeves or braces for added support.

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