Limitation in daily physical activity is one of the reasons for total hip arthroplasty (THA) or total knee arthroplasty (TKA). However, studies of the effects of THA or TKA generally do not determine actual daily activity as part of physical functioning. We determined the effect of THA or TKA on patients' actual physical activity and body function (pain, stiffness), capacity to perform tasks, and self-reported physical functioning. We also assessed whether there are differences in the effect of the surgery between patients undergoing THA or TKA and whether the improvements vary between these different outcome measures. We recruited patients with long-standing end-stage osteoarthritis of the hip or knee awaiting THA or TKA. Measurements were performed before surgery and 3 and 6 months after surgery. Actual physical activity improved by 0.7%. Patients' body function, capacity, and self-reported physical functioning also improved. The effects of the surgery on these aspects of physical functioning were similar for THA and TKA. The effect on actual physical activity (8%) was smaller than on body function (80%-167%), capacity (19%-36%), and self-reported physical functioning (87%-112%). Therefore, in contrast to the large effect on pain and stiffness, patients' capacity, and their self-reported physical functioning, the improvement in actual physical activity of our patients was less than expected 6 months after surgery. Level of Evidence: Level I, prospective study. See the Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.