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Exercise may alleviate symptoms of arthritis regardless of weight loss

Approximately 50 million adults in the United States have been diagnosed with arthritis and the cost of treating it and other rheumatic conditions is an estimated $128 billion (.pdf) a year.

Often pain, stiffness and swelling of the joints associated with arthritis can prevent patients from being active. But a growing body of evidence, including findings published today in Arthritis & Rheumatism, shows exercise can ease such symptoms.

In the latest study (subscription required), which used a mouse model, researchers found being physically active diminishes arthritis patients' symptoms even if they don't lose weight. The findings are notable because of the prevalence of obesity among adults with arthritis. Booster Shots reports:

Researchers from Duke University worked with 20 8-week-old male mice, half of whom were fed a high-fat diet in which 60% of calories came from fat. The other half got their usual food, with 13.5% of calories from fat.

As expected, the mice on the high fat diet got pretty chubby; after 12 weeks they had a 55% increase in body mass and their body fat percentage rose more than three-fold. Researchers found evidence of osteoarthritis in the mice's knees, such as markers for inflammation. They also found elevated glucose levels (an indication of prediabetes).

When the obese mice started running regularly on a wheel, changes started happening, despite the fact that they were still chowing down on that fatty diet and losing no weight: the inflammation response was disrupted and glucose tolerance improved.

Previously: Treating joint pain with physical activity, self-management programs and How physical activity influences health
Photo by OakleyOriginals

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