Arthritis is a major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia. The pain and stiffness of arthritis can interfere with the most basic daily tasks such as walking, driving a car and preparing food and make it difficult for people to keep moving and remain functionally independent.

For people with arthritis-related mobility problems, it can be hard to reach recommended amounts of physical activity levels, which is why a research team from the United States investigated the minimum amount of activity that translates to improvements in lower-limb joint symptoms.

The study involved more than 1,600 adults over the age of 48 who had arthritic pain or stiffness in their hips, knees or feet. Mobility was measured by gait speed and self-assessed physical function at an interval of two years.

The key minimal physical activity threshold of 45 minutes per week was consistently linked to an 80 percent greater chance that a person would improve or sustain physical function and gait speed over two years, compared with those who did less activity.

The threshold was the same independent of age, gender, body mass index and degree of severity of osteoarthritis.

Implications

National physical activity guidelines call for a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate activity each week and recommends people to be active on most days of the week.

The target of 150 minutes may be too difficult for older people suffering from arthritis, so research to show that even half that can offer benefit, is encouraging and is a good starting point.

Last Reviewed: 18/12/2019

© Norman Swan Medical Communications.



References

Dunlop DD et al. Physical activity minimum threshold predicting improved function in adults with lower limb symptoms. Arthritis Care & Research Epub online Dec 30, 2016. doi: 10.1002/acr.23181.

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