(RxWiki News) Osteoarthritis sufferers are able to move faster and with more ease if they lead physically active lives, according to new research from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
A small increase in physical activity is related to better walking function, according to the study, which should motivate people to get moving in spite of the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, affecting 27 million adults in the U.S.
Physical activity helps people with knee osteoarthritis, the leading cause of disability in adults in the U.S., as it promotes healthy joint cartilage and reduces pain, depression and fatigue, according to Dorothy Dunlop, associate professor of medicine.
Per federal guidelines, people with osteoarthritis should participate in 2.5 hours per week or moderate intensity, low-impact activity, at minimum. But even if osteoarthritis sufferers cannot meet this standard, they should become as physically active as possible, Dunlop said.
The study known as the Osteoarthritis Initiative surveyed 2,500 participants with knee osteoarthritis, who self-reported physical activity. Researchers then divided participants into four groups based on physical activity levels.
Less than half of the group reporting the least physical activity were able to walk across a crosswalk before the "walk" light changed. (Pedestrian lights generally allow for four-feet per second of walk time.) The next three groups were able to cross before the light switched at 63 percent, 71 percent and 81 percent with more being able to cross in time corresponding with their activity levels.