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Walking for Weight Loss

Arthritis affects cartilage, which is the smooth protective tissue that covers bones where they meet and allows them to glide and move easily. When one develops arthritis, the cartilage wears away, and the bone rubs together, making it hard to move. When joints don’t move, the tendons and muscles around the joint stiffen and become painful when the joint is moved.  Extra weight on your frame accelerates the wearing out of your joints. This becomes a vicious cycle which needs to be broken.

One can learn to manage the extra weight , arthritis and protect your joints with this 3 part plan.

In order to get stronger and move better, one must focus on 3 types of exercise; muscle strengthening, aerobics, and flexibility. The best results from your time and effort can be obtained by taking small steps when starting, gradually do more a little bit at a time, and always warm up and cool down for any kind of exercise.

The first way to get started is to just start walking. Begin slowly and take it one block at a time. Gradually increase the distance you walk every day and once you are able to increase the distance then accelerate the pace of your step. You should always try to walk seven days a week.

Strengthening exercises should be done 3 days/week and for 15-30 minute sessions. Flexibility stretches should be done 7 days/week for 5 minutes/ day. Aerobics / cardio activity should be 5-30 minutes 3 days/ week progressing to a daily routine as you get healthier. Aerobic exercise (walking, dancing, exercise class) is usually weight bearing exercise. Non-weight bearing exercise (swimming, water aerobics, and bike riding) are for those patients who are weight bearing intolerant so they can get started and gradually work up to weight bearing exercise.

Weight loss is important to decrease the load carried by your joints. Take for example your knees; your knees carry 4 times your body weight. So if you weigh 180 pounds, every pound you lose, the pressure on your knees is 4 times less. Ideally, you should keep your weight a healthy range with a BMI (body mass index) of 18.5 to 24.9.

Lastly protecting your joints can help you control your daily arthritis joint pain. When standing or walking, don’t stand too long in one place, keep your feet wide apart to distribute your weight evenly; and ditch the high heels. When sitting or resting change positions frequently. When performing material handling, lift objects correctly with your legs, and avoid excessive squatting or kneeling.

Whether it’s a hip joint, a knee joint, a finger joint, or a spine joint, the principles are the same. The only difference with spine joints is that there are more risks inherent as one must have concerns for protecting the spinal cord and nerve roots as they are not replaceable and result in significant impairment when damaged.

To learn more about Dr. Cotler or to schedule an appointment, please call us on (713) 523-8884 or visit

Howard B. Cotler, MD, FACS, FAAOS is board certified and recertified in Orthopedic Surgery. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgery and the American College of Surgeons.

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