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Try Walking to Ease Joint Pain

Photo: Senior couple walking on beachMay is Arthritis Awareness Month. Learn how you can pump up your physical activity.

Walking is the best medicine.

Despite the known benefits of physical activity to help manage arthritis, adults with arthritis are less active than adults without arthritis.1 Walking has been shown to improve arthritis pain, fatigue, function, and quality of life,2 but over 50% of people with arthritis do not walk at all (walk an average of 0 minutes per week).3 Walking is low impact on your joints, can be done almost anywhere and doesn't require special equipment or a gym membership. Celebrate Arthritis Awareness Month by starting a walking program today.

Getting started.

Federal guidelines recommend all adults, including adults with arthritis, get at least 150 minutes per week of at least moderate intensity aerobic activity and that they do muscle strengthening exercises at least 2 days per week.4 Walking is a moderate intensity activity that people with arthritis can do to meet physical activity recommendations. If you walk for 30 minutes a day on 5 days a week you will meet these recommendations.

Don't think you can walk for 30 minutes at one time? You can break it up into 10 minute sessions and spread it out during the day—walk the dog 10 minutes in the morning, take a 10 minute walk to discuss a project with a co-worker, and walk 10 minutes around a sports facility or parking lot while waiting to pick up your kids from after school activities.

Photo: Two women walking

Fun ways you can fit walking into your life.

  • Sign up to participate in an Arthritis Walk near you.
  • Walk your dog or volunteer to walk dogs at an animal shelter.
  • Suggest to co-workers to have "walking meetings."
  • Park 10 minutes away from your office and walk the rest of the way.
  • Start a Walking School Bus in your neighborhood.
  • Walk around the soccer field, basketball court, or softball field when your kids are at sports practice.
  • Buy an inexpensive pedometer and work to increase your steps a little each day.
  • Have a friendly competition with a spouse, friend, or co-worker.
  • When the weather is bad, stop by your local mall and walk a few laps.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. State-specific prevalence of no leisure-time physical activity among adults with and without doctor-diagnosed arthritis —United States 2009. MMWR. 2011;60(48):1641-1645. PDF [1.10 MB]
  2. Callahan LF, Shreffler JH, Altpeter M, Schoster B, Hootman J, Houenou LO, Martin KR, Schwartz TA. Evaluation of group and self-directed formats of the Arthritis Foundation's Walk With Ease Program. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011; 63(8):1098-107.
  3. Hootman JM, Barbour KE, Watson KB, Fulton JE. State-specific prevalence of walking among adults with arthritis— United States, 2011. MMWR 2013; 62(17): 331-334.
  4. Department of Health and Human Services. 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans Web site. Accessed April 17, 2014.
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