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Walking for Exercise Beneficial for Knee Osteoarthritis in Over 50s

Those who walked for exercise had reduced likelihood of new frequent knee pain and medial joint space narrowing

WEDNESDAY, June 8, 2022 (HealthDay News) — For adults aged 50 years and older with knee osteoarthritis, walking for exercise is associated with a reduced likelihood of new frequent knee pain and medial joint space narrowing, according to a study published online June 8 in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Grace H. Lo, M.D., from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues examined a nested cohort of participants aged 50 years or older with knee osteoarthritis, enrolled in a community-based observational study from 2004 to 2006, to assess the association between walking for exercise and symptomatic and structural progression. The authors focused on four dichotomous outcomes: new frequent knee pain, Kellgren-Lawrence grade worsening, medial joint space narrowing, and improved frequent knee pain. Walking for exercise was assessed using a modified version of the Historical Physical Activity Survey Instrument at the 96-month visit (2012 to 2014).

Seventy-three percent of the 1,212 participants walked for exercise. The researchers found that those who walked had a reduced likelihood of new frequent knee pain and medial joint space narrowing (odds ratios [95 percent confidence intervals], 0.6 [0.4 to 0.8] and 0.8 [0.6 to 1.0], respectively).

“The findings from our study provide a glimmer of hope that there may be an inexpensive intervention that modifies the structure and symptoms related to osteoarthritis, the most common type of arthritis and a source of substantial disability,” the authors write. “Beyond a benefit in symptoms for osteoarthritis, the findings from our study also suggest that walking may also provide a structural benefit for a large portion of the community with osteoarthritis.”

The study was partially funded by the pharmaceutical industry.

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