Keep It Low-Impact for High Benefit

Stop osteoarthritis in its tracks with lighter exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A slight change in physical activity can impact people at risk for osteoarthritis by delaying or even preventing onset.

 The finding arrives as part of a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

“Engaging in light exercise and refraining from frequent knee-bending activities may protect against the onset of the disease osteoarthritis," said the study's senior author Thomas M. Link, M.D., professor of radiology and chief of musculoskeletal imaging at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).

More than one hour per day at least three times a week appears to degenerate cartilage and put people at a potentially a higher risk for development of osteoarthritis, however. The disease ranks as the most common form of arthritis and affects an estimated 27 million Americans over the age of 25.

MRI exams revealed that light exercisers had the healthiest knee cartilage among all exercise levels of the 99 women and 66 men between the ages of 45 and 55 enrolled in the study. Patients with minimal strength training had healthier cartilage than patients with either no strength training or frequent strength training.

Additionally, frequent knee-bending activities – including stair-climbing, lifting heavy objects, squatting, kneeling and deep-knee bending for at least 30 minutes per day – were associated with higher water content and cartilage abnormalities.

Researchers concluded that individuals can reduce their risk for osteoarthritis by maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding risky activities and strenuous exercise.

"Lower-impact sports, such as walking, swimming or using an elliptical trainer are likely more beneficial than high-impact sports, such as running or tennis," Link said.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 29, 2010
Last Updated:
November 30, 2010