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Stanford University School of Medicine

Moderate physical activity not a risk factor for knee osteoarthritis, study shows

As my wise yoga teacher once said after advising a student to skip a certain pose if she felt any joint strain, "Once knees get weird, they tend to always be weird." She looked around the class. "A lot of you are nodding; I'm sorry you know that already."

Coming from a weird-kneed family, I've been careful not to overdo any type of movement likely to contribute to a meniscus tear or cartilage disintegration, as my elders have endured. But research strongly suggests that maintaining an exercise routine is advantageous for healthy knee function and injury prevention. So, what to do as the days wear on?

More support for "keep moving" came today as I read about a study of 1,522 adults age 45 and older who engaged in moderate physical activity for up to two-and-a-half hours per week and showed that their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis did not increase over a six-year period.

Published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research, the study (subscription required) found that participants who were physically active for up to five hours a week showed a slightly higher, but not statistically significant, risk for knee osteoarthritis.

From a release:

[The analysis] tested whether or not there was an association between meeting Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines for 150 minutes of physical activity per week and the development of knee osteoarthritis, as confirmed both by X-rays and the presence of knee pain or other symptoms.

The study's findings support HHS recommendations and concludes that activities such as walking, conditioning exercises and household activities such as gardening or yard work that amount to moderate weekly levels of physical activity should continue to be encouraged.

Previously: New thinking about osteoarthritis, older people’s nemesisInflammation, not just wear and tear, spawn osteoarthritisExercise may alleviate symptoms of arthritis regardless of weight loss and Study links high heels to osteoarthritis and joint problems
Photo by Even and Donabel

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