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Experiencing arthritis and inflamed joints with age is common among adults, but according to a new study, one routine part of your day could help battle these conditions. Recent research published in Wiley Online Library noted that walking could keep knee pain at bay for those with osteoarthritis. Dr. Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and the lead author on the study, says this finding symbolizes "a paradigm shift," as "this highlights the importance and likelihood that interventions for osteoarthritis might be something different, including good old exercise."
The team of researchers came to this conclusion after surveying over 1,000 people over the age 50 who had knee osteoarthritis, starting in 2004. The scientists found that the participants had varying experiences with pain; some had discomfort from the start and others did not. Over the course of four years, the people who had constant knee pain and walked as a form of exercise cut their risks of experiencing new structural damage or stiffness around these joints.
The participants' physical progress was studied by X-ray, which showed the state of the joint. From there, the researchers told the participants to document their exercise routines and checked in on their pain-related symptoms during visits. After the study period, 37 percent of the volunteers who didn't walk for exercise (this didn't include baseline trips, like running errands) experienced new knee pain. Only 26 percent of those who did walk ended up developing consistent knee pain.
Research from this study also proves how walking can be a preventative tactic for inflammatory conditions. Ultimately, Dr. Lo recommends that those who are at risk for developing knee osteoarthritis take a daily walk to ward off symptoms. Plus, this simple tactic has benefits for other areas of the body. The new study notes that walking can help ease pain in other joints, as well, specifically the hips, hands, and feet.