The purpose of this study was to determine the long-term effects of aerobic walking and weight training interventions on gait mechanics and knee pain in older adults with knee osteoarthritis (OA). One hundred three older adults (age ≥60 years) with radio-graphic evidence of knee OA were randomized to one of three treatment groups: aerobic walking, health education control, or weight training. Both exercise intervention groups exercised 3 days · week-1 for 18 months. The aerobic group significantly improved temporal components of gait as well as knee and ankle joint kinematics relative to the health education group across the 18-month intervention. Moreover, the weight training group exhibited significantly greater ankle plantar flexion velocity. Analysis of the ground reaction forces indicated that the aerobic group exhibited significantly greater force relative to the health education group. Finally, both exercise groups exhibited significantly less knee pain than the health education group. The results suggest that long-term aerobic walking and, to a lesser extent, weight training regimens improve walking mechanics in older adults with knee osteoarthritis. These improvements in gait are associated with a reduction in knee pain during activities of daily living.
Stephen P. Messier is with the J.B. Snow Biomechanics Laboratory, Department of Health and Exercise Science, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27109. Christopher D. Thompson is with the Department of Public Health Sciences and Walter H. Ettinger, Jr., is with the Department of Internal Medicine/Gerontology, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC 27157.