Among the chief reasons to walk: walking benefits your muscles. Not using your muscles can result in a slight loss of function every day – and that’s particularly bad for someone with arthritis.
Without regular exercise, muscles become smaller and weaker, and weakness and weight gain from inactivity put stress on weight-bearing joints, such as the hips, knees and ankles. “The process is slow and easily gives the impression that lack of activity isn’t really affecting you. However, many studies show that not using your muscles can lead to poor posture, limited range of motion and decreased strength,” says Bennett Harrell.
Other benefits include:
1. You can reduce osteoarthritis (OA) pain. Quadriceps muscle weakness has been directly correlated with pain and disability in people with OA a study reports.
2. You’ll improve your function. People with knee OA who were active in an exercise program reported less pain and better function, according to studies.
3. You’ll reap emotional benefits. Research shows that people who take part in their own care report less pain and make fewer doctor visits. A study from California State University, Long Beach, showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their mood.
4. You’ll enjoy a better quality of life, according to the American College of Rheumatology Criteria for the Classification and Reporting of Osteoarthritis of the Hand. Walking can help you maintain or improve your physical and mental health, and lead to a longer life.
5. You’ll be able to do more, longer. Aerobic walking and resistance exercise programs may reduce the incidence of disability in the activities of daily living of people who are older than 65 and have symptomatic OA, shows a study published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management.
6. You’ll see results. People who participate in aerobic activities, such as walking, have been shown to have improved aerobic capacity and shortened time for walking 50 feet as well as decreased depression and anxiety, compared to people who perform only range of motion exercises, according to studies published in the Annals of Internal Medicine and Arthritis and Rheumatism.