Is Walking Good for Osteoarthritis?

Ask a Doctor

I’m a 68-year-old woman and I’ve never exercised in my life. I’m not overweight, but I do have osteoarthritis. My daughter keeps bugging me to go for walks with her because it might be good for arthritis pain, but I’m skeptical. Walking seems to aggravate my joint and cartilage pain symptoms. Is walking good for osteoarthritis?

Doctor’s Response

Exercise, including walking, can be beneficial for osteoarthritis patients. Exercise can help to reduce pain and increase quality of life. Lack of exercise can lead to more joint stiffness, muscle weakness and tightness, and loss of joint motion.

When you do exercise, warm-ups and cool-downs are important. The amount of walking you should do depends on your current fitness level. If you have not exercised much due to pain you might begin with just five minutes of slow walking. Mild joint or muscle soreness is normal after exercising.

If you have osteoarthritis, talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program to make sure it is safe. Find out if there are specific movements that should be included or avoided, and if you need to be evaluated by a physical or occupational therapist before starting exercise.

For more information, read our full medical article on osteoarthritis.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Gecht-Silver, OTD, MPH, OTR/L, Maureen R and Alison M Duncombe, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT. Patient education: Arthritis and exercise (Beyond the Basics). 7 March 2018. 7 January 2019 .