Document Type




Publication Date



American College of Rheumatology

Source Publication

Arthritis Care & Research

Source ISSN




To identify an evidence‐based minimum physical activity threshold to predict improved or sustained high function for adults with lower‐extremity joint symptoms.


Prospective multisite data from 1,629 adults, age ≥49 years with symptomatic lower‐extremity joint pain/aching/stiffness, participating in the Osteoarthritis Initiative accelerometer monitoring substudy were clinically assessed 2 years apart. Improved/high function in 2‐year gait speed and patient‐reported outcomes (PROs) were based on improving or remaining in the best (i.e., maintaining high) function quintile compared to baseline status. Optimal thresholds predicting improved/high function were investigated using classification trees for the legacy federal guideline metric requiring 150 minutes/week of moderate‐vigorous (MV) activity in bouts lasting 10 minutes or more (MV‐bout) and other metrics (total MV, sedentary, light intensity activity, nonsedentary minutes/week).


Optimal thresholds based on total MV minutes/week predicted improved/high function outcomes more strongly than the legacy or other investigated metrics. Meeting the 45 total MV minutes/week threshold had increased relative risk (RR) for improved/high function (gait speed RR 1.8, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 1.6, 2.1 and PRO physical function RR 1.4, 95% CI 1.3, 1.6) compared to less active adults. Thresholds were consistent across sex, body mass index, knee osteoarthritis status, and age.


These results supported a physical activity minimum threshold of 45 total MV minutes/week to promote improved or sustained high function for adults with lower‐extremity joint symptoms. This evidence‐based threshold is less rigorous than federal guidelines (≥150 MV‐bout minutes/week) and provides an intermediate goal towards the federal guideline for adults with lower‐extremity symptoms.


Accepted version. Arthritis Care & Research, Vol. 69, No. 4 (April 2017): 475-483. DOI. © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Used with permission.

Daniel Pinto was affiliated with Northwestern University at the time of publication.

pinto_11967.pdf (502 kB)
ADA accessible version