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Adults with Knee Arthritis Less Active than General Population

February 21, 2018
Findings indicate a need for older generation to keep exercising

A PPM Brief

It may seem apparent on the surface, but persistent health issues among older generations are a key factor in keeping the geriatric population away from physical activity. A recent report in Arthritis Care & Research1 set out to compare objectively measured physical activity (PA) in older adults with symptomatic knee osteoarthritis (SxOA) with similarly aged adults without osteoarthritis (OA) or knee symptoms.

The study analyzed individuals aged 50 to 85 years with SxOA from the Osteoarthritis Initiative (OAI, n=491), and individuals aged 50 to 85 years from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES, n=449). A uniaxial accelerometer was worn for more than 10 hours a day for at least 4 days in the NHANES reviewed from 2003 to 2004 data,* and in the OAI reviewed from 2008 to 2010 data.** The study calculated time spent in moderate-vigorous PA (MVPA in minutes a day) and described differences in MVPA and demographic variables between the samples. The authors then conducted matched-pairs sensitivity analyses to further evaluate the role of potential confounders.1

Both groups had similarly low levels of PA. Time spent engaging in moderate to vigorous PA ranged from a median of 1 to 22 minutes a day in people with SxOA, and from 1 to 24 minutes a day in the general population without OA or knee pain. These results were similar in sensitivity analyses.1

“Contemporary studies consistently show a high prevalence of physical inactivity in the US,” study authors wrote. “Despite national campaigns and increasing attention on the consequences of physical inactivity, only modest improvements in PA participation have been observed in the last 20 years, and the proportion of people who meet PA guidelines remains low.”

Individuals with symptomatic knee OA as well as those in the general population without OA or knee symptoms seemed to engage in little moderate to vigorous exercise, the study concluded. The results reiterated the need for successful interventions to increase physical activity among the general geriatric population including those with knee OA.1

“Continued efforts are needed to design and implement national programs to successfully increase leisure time PA, regardless of the presence of knee symptoms,” study authors concluded.


*Authors noted using NHANES data from 2003 to 2004 because it included additional questions related to joint pain and arthritis.1

**From 2008 to 2010, objective PA data was collected in a subset of individuals in the OAI. Of this subset, study authors included people aged 50-85 years who participated in the accelerometer study and provided at least 4 valid days of data.1

Last updated on: March 22, 2018
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