Not Walking the Walk with Arthritis

Arthritis patients walked less than 90 minutes each week

(RxWiki News) While walking has a low impact on the body, and is convenient and inexpensive to do, few adults are actually doing it, particularly those with arthritis.

More than half of all adults with arthritis walked less than 90 minutes each week in 2011, according to a recent report by the Centers for Disease Control. And up to 66 percent of arthritis patients in certain states were not walking at all.

Social support and community interventions can increase access to walking among individuals with arthritis who are not getting the full benefit of regular walking, the researchers said.

"Find a buddy to walk with."

Jennifer Hootman, PhD, from the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, led an investigation into how often adults with arthritis walk each week.

Walking can reduce arthritis symptoms and improve quality of life, physical function, strength and balance, according to the researchers.

The researchers reviewed data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey.

Almost 498,000 adults across the US responded to the survey, which asked respondents to report how often and how long they engaged in 60 different physical activities, including walking.

Among the respondents, 166,417 were diagnosed with arthritis. The researchers categorized participants into one of five groups based on how long they walked.

Groups included 0 minutes, one to 89 minutes, 90 to 119 minutes, 120 to 149 minutes and more than 150 minutes of walking each week.

More than half of adults with arthritis in every state did no or little walking each week, the researchers found.

After adjusting for age in eight states, the researchers also found that almost 72 percent of adults walked less than 90 minutes each week.

From state to state, between 44 and 66 percent of adults with arthritis did not walk at all, and between 9 and 16 percent of patients walked up to 89 minutes a week.

Tennessee had the greatest number of adults with arthritis who walked less than 90 minutes a week, at a rate of about 76 percent, while California had the fewest number that walked 89 minutes or less at 58 percent.

Safe and effective community interventions could assist people with arthritis to start and maintain a walking program, the researchers said.

"Most persons with arthritis do no or little walking per week,” they wrote in their report.

"By coupling environmental and policy strategies to increase access to walking, it might be possible to expand the reach of these effective programs for adults with arthritis," they wrote.

The authors noted that the survey used self-reported data, which might have misreported participants' arthritis status and the amount of time they walked.

The survey also did not account for walking performed as transportation or at work, nor did the survey assess the type, severity and location of arthritis, which can affect the rate of walking.

Though physical inactivity levels were similar for men and women, recommended levels of activity are different for each gender.

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report was released May 3 by the CDC. The CDC currently funds 12 states to implement certain physical activity programs in local communities.

Review Date: 
May 8, 2013