Does Mood Spur Walking?

Osteoarthritis patients with a positive attitude walk more

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) If you have arthritis, it's important to stay active and keep your joints moving. Walking is a simple activity that can help protect your joints. However, some patients can't find the motivation to get up and walk.

Osteoarthritis patients with knee pain walked more steps per day if they had a positive attitude, compared to those with a less positive attitude.

This finding suggests that a positive outlook may help when it comes to knee pain from osteoarthritis.

"Stay active if you have arthritis."

Both knee pain and symptoms of depression are known to keep many older adults from walking on a daily basis, said Daniel K. White, PT, ScD, of Boston University and colleagues in their recent study.

Yet, researchers are still unsure if a person's attitude can affect their walking habits.

Dr. White and colleagues wanted to find out if a positive attitude helped patients with knee osteoarthritis walk more each day.

They found that patients with a high positive attitude walked about the same amount as those with a low positive attitude. However, patients with a positive attitude walked more than those with depressive symptoms.

The researchers also found that a patient's level of knee pain was associated with their attitude.

Among patients who said they had knee pain, those with a high positive attitude walked 711 more steps per day than those with a low positive attitude.

Physical activity is a crucial part of treating osteoarthritis. As such, it is important to encourage arthritis patients to stay active.

The results of this study suggest that doctors and mental health specialists may need to address patients' attitudes to increase physical activity among those with knee osteoarthritis.

The study included 1,018 patients with knee osteoarthritis. Patients wore a StepWatch monitor to count the number of steps they walked per day. The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale was used to measure high and low positive attitude and symptoms of depression. Patients who reported pain on most days were categorized as having knee pain.

The research was funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American College of Rheumatology, the Arthritis Foundation, the Boston Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center and the Foundation for Physical Therapy.

Study co-author Julie J. Keysor, PT, PhD, has received various fees from the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals and the American Physical Therapy Association.

The study was published August 27 in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology. 

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Review Date: 
September 3, 2012
Last Updated:
September 5, 2012