Functional limitations of the knees that result from osteoarthritis (OA) can be prevented by walking...and walking....6,000 steps per day to be exact.

Previous studies indicate that OA is the leading cause of mobility limitation for adults, making it difficult to rise from a chair or climb stairs.

In the recent study, funded in part by grants from the National Institute of Health (NIH) and published in the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) journal Arthritis Care & Research, researchers attached electronic monitors to 1,788 people with or at risk for knee OA over a period of seven days.

Two years later, they analyzed their mobility and found 6,000 steps to be the threshold at which mobility was likely to last longer.

If this seems like a lot of walking, particularly for those with declining knee function, it is less than the 10,000 steps per day often recommended for healthy individuals.

"Walking is an inexpensive activity and despite the common popular goal of walking 10,000 steps per day, our study finds only 6,000 steps are necessary to realize benefits," says Dr. Daniel White, PT, ScD, from Sargent College at Boston University in Massachusetts. "We encourage those with or at risk of knee OA to walk at least 3,000 or more steps each day, and ultimately progress to 6,000 steps daily to minimize the risk of developing difficulty with mobility."

Walking is well known for its numerous health benefits including healthy weight management, improved cardiac health, and reduced risk for diseases such as diabetes.