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Light physical activity reduced risk of limitation from osteoarthritis

Replacement of sedentary time with light physical activity reduced the risk of functional limitation in patients with knee osteoarthritis, according to an abstract presented at the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting.

“Knee osteoarthritis [(OA)] is a common cause of lower body functional limitation and this includes things like difficulty walking and climbing stairs,” Daniel White, PT, assistant professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware, said during his presentation. “However, it is unclear as to whether light intensity activity benefits physical function in patients with knee [OA].”

White and colleagues measured physical activity with an accelerometer in a cohort of adults from the Osteoarthritis Initiative at 48-month and 72-month visits. Researchers defined functional limitation as a gait speed of slower than 1 meter per second during a 20-meter walk, a WOMAC score of at least 28 and a SF-12 of less than 40. They evaluated the association between physical function and replacement of 5 minutes of sedentary time with 5 minutes of light or moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) in 1,873 patients. Patients had a mean age of 65 years and 54.6% were women.

Researchers found replacement of sedentary time with light activity reduced the risk for slow gait function by 2% and replacement of sedentary time with MVPA reduced the risk by 21%. They found 78 minutes of light activity was required to achieve the same benefit of 5 minutes of MVPA. In addition, replacement of sedentary time with MVPA, but not light activity, significantly reduced the incident risk for low WOMAC. The protective effect of light activity or MVPA replacement was amplified with longer replacement periods.

“Health providers should recommend light activity to their patients with knee osteoarthritis, but they should also recommend — if possible — for them to participate in moderate to vigorous physical activity,” White said. “So, we as health providers should assess and reduce sedentary behavior with people with knee OA.” – by Will Offit


White D, et al. Abstract #3132. Presented at: American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting; Nov. 11-16, 2016; Washington.

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