One Hour a Week of Brisk Walking can Prevent Disability in Seniors with Osteoarthritis

A study by researchers at Northwestern University that was published April 1, 2019 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine shows that just one hour a week of brisk walking can prevent disability in seniors who have osteoarthritis of the knees, hips, ankles or feet. According to the lead author Dorothy Dunlop, professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, this amounts to less than 10 minutes a day for people to ward off disability.

An Hour of Moderate-to-vigorous Weekly Physical Activity Helped Seniors to Remain Independent

An hour of moderate-to-vigorous weekly physical activity like brisk walking helped seniors to remain independent in daily tasks like getting dressed by themselves or being able to cross a street before the traffic light changed to red. An hour of brisk walking, for instance, was able to lower their risk for mobility disability (crossing a street too slowly) by 85%. Brisk walking also lowered their risk for difficulties in performing routine daily tasks like bathing and dressing by almost 45%.

The National Osteoarthritis Initiative

More than 1,500 adults participated in the National Osteoarthritis Initiative from Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Columbus and Pawtucket, Rhode Island. While all of them had pain, aches or stiffness in their lower joints, none of them were disabled at the beginning of the study. They were followed from September 2008 to December 2014. Accelerometers were used to measure their physical activity.


After four years those who participated in an hour of moderate-vigorous physical activity a week significantly increased their chances of avoiding disability.

Federal Guidelines Recommend 2.5 Hours

Federal guidelines recommend that seniors with arthritis participate in at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity activity. However, this is too difficult for those who suffer from pain in their lower joints. Good news is that the results of this study show that only one hour a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity like brisk walking is enough to ward off disability.

Knee Osteoarthritis is the Most Common Form of Osteoarthritis in the United States

Knee osteoarthritis is the most common form of osteoarthritis in the United States and affects about 14 million American seniors. About two in every five seniors with osteoarthritis, especially in the lower joints, develop disabilities. Some of those disabilities lead to needing a total hip replacement or a total knee replacement (TKR). To learn more about preparing for a total hip replacement see our blog post from August 28, 2019.

Rehabilitation after a Total Knee Replacement or Total Hip Replacement

Make arrangements in advance for the rehabilitation that you or your loved one will need after the hip or knee replacement surgery. The sooner rehabilitation is begun and it should begin in the hospital, the sooner will be the recovery. You might decide the best option for you or your loved one is to go to a short-term rehab such as the Park Crescent Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center in East Orange, New Jersey. Park Crescent offers expert rehabilitation after a total knee or total hip replacement operation and they have a state-of-the-art gym. Park Crescent also offers fine dining with nutritious and delicious cuisines and a fantastic array of recreational activities.


It is good to know that only one hour a week of moderate-to-vigorous weekly physical activity like brisk walking can lower the risk for developing disabilities.

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