• pedometer;
  • physical activity;
  • muscle strength;
  • function

OBJECTIVES:  To determine whether a home-based pedometer-driven walking program with arthritis self-management education (Walk +) would increase physical activity, muscle strength, and functional performance in older adults with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee as opposed to arthritis self-management education alone (EDU).

DESIGN:   A randomized two-by-three (group-by-time) design with participants assigned to Walk + (n = 17, mean age ± standard deviation = 69.6 ± 6.7) or EDU (n = 17, age = 70.8 ± 4.7).

SETTING:   Community located in the Baltimore-Washington area.

PARTICIPANTS:   Thirty-four community-dwelling adults, aged 60 and older with symptomatic knee OA and self-reported functional impairment.

INTERVENTIONS:   Both groups received 12 hours of the Arthritis Self-Management program over 12 weeks and were followed for an additional 12 weeks. In addition, the Walk + group received individualized instruction in the use of a pedometer, with the goal of increasing their step count by 30% of their baseline step count.

MEASUREMENTS:   The outcome measures were physical activity (daily step counts and total activity vector magnitude as measured by a pedometer and Tritrac-R3D accelerometer), quadriceps femoris strength (isometric peak torque), and functional performance tasks (100-foot walk-turn-walk, timed stair climb, timed chair rise, and pain status).

RESULTS:   Daily steps walked showed a significant group-by-time interaction (P = .04) after controlling for age. From baseline to completion of training, a 23% increase in daily steps occurred in the Walk + group and a 15% decrease in the EDU group. Although steps increased in the Walk + group, total activity vector magnitude was maintained, suggesting a more efficient gait. The Walk + group became quicker than the EDU group in the normal-pace walk-turn-walk (P = .04). An isometric strength gain of 21% postintervention was seen in the Walk + group, compared with a loss of 3.5% in the EDU group.

CONCLUSION:   In older adults with symptomatic knee OA, Walk + appears to increase walking, with improvements in muscle strength and walking performance. The use of a home-based pedometer-driven program to increase physical activity, strength, and function in this population warrants further research.