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Fight Knee Arthritis with 6,000 Steps a Day

Fight Knee Arthritis with 6,000 Steps a Day

If you’re troubled by knee arthritis, here’s a number to keep in mind: 6000.

What’s so special about that number? Research suggests that walking just 6000 steps each day helps people with arthritis fend off pain and stay active.

Knee arthritis can cause nearly 80 percent of sufferers to have trouble using stairs, walking or standing. For about 11 percent of people, those problems become disabling.

To study how well walking prevents that disability, researchers gave activity monitors to almost 1,800 people who had knee arthritis or were at risk for it. The people recorded their daily steps for a week, and then the researchers assessed them two years later. The study was published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.

It turned out that roughly 6,000 steps per day was the best dividing line between those who developed disabilities because of their knee pain and those who didn’t. But the benefits of walking don’t stop at that number. For every 1,000 steps people walked, knee problems decreased by an additional 16-18 percent.

Walking more increases the strength and flexibility of your muscles, thus improving mobility. And the added benefits of walking—especially since it’s a gentle exercise for those with existing pain and it fights weight gain, which can affect joints—make it the perfect exercise for people suffering from osteoarthritis. Plus, it’s an extremely easy exercise to start, as you already know how to do it. And with a good pair of shoes, it’s practically free.

But you may be wondering: How much walking is 6,000 steps? If you walk 100 steps per minute (an average speed for most people), then you’ll get 6,000 steps in an hour of walking. Just starting to get into an exercise routine? Try starting slow by setting a 3,000-step goal and working towards more. Remember, you don’t have to do all those steps at once. All the walking you do in a day counts, and it can add up faster than you think.

Medically reviewed in April 2018.

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