It is a well-known fact that exercising can help ease the pain associated with arthritis. Walking 10,000 steps a day, which is roughly equivalent to walking 5 miles, is now widely recommended by exercise experts as a target number for improving the average person’s health. The number was not developed from scientific research and it isn’t a magic number that will improve everyone’s health. However, there is data to show that those who walk between 5,000 and 10,000 steps a day are 40 percent less likely to develop metabolic syndrome, which is a condition that can predispose you to diabetes and heart problems. The benefits increase even further if your step count is 10,000 or more per day, as you are then 72 percent less likely to develop this condition.
A study from the University of Tennessee asked overweight women to wear pedometers. Half of the group was asked to walk briskly for 30 minutes while the other half of the women was asked to walk 10,000 steps a day. The group who counted their steps averaged over 10,000 a day while the other group averaged 8,270 to 9,505, on the days they hit their 30-minute goals and only 5,597 on the days they didn’t exercise for 30 minutes. Based on this experiment, it becomes apparent that setting your walking goal based on a certain number of steps per day, versus a certain number of minutes per day, may be a better way to increase physical activity.
Walking in particular has been recognized as one of the best types of exercises for people suffering with joint pain. This begs the question; just how many steps should a person with arthritis take daily in order to obtain the benefits that walking has to offer without causing further damage? According to the Arthritis Foundation and a new study published online in Arthritis Care & Research, 6,000 steps per day is the magic number that has been shown to reduce the risk of “functional limitations in people with knee osteoarthritis (OA).” What does this mean exactly? By walking 6,000 steps a day, a person’s quality of life can be improved by making daily activities such as getting out of a chair, walking up stairs or bending down, much easier and less painful to perform. For someone suffering from joint pain, 6,000 steps may seem like a lot, but it is important to know that any amount of walking is still better than not walking at all. Researchers found that “walking 5,000 steps per day (compared with fewer than 5,000) still helped, but not as much.” While keeping this in mind, set goals for yourself, walk as much as you feel comfortable and increase your steps slowly each week to reach your personal goals. To keep track of your progress, there are many products and apps that can be used to calculate activity level, calories burned, quality of sleep and most importantly, the amount of steps you have taken.
See all of the study results on Arthritis Today