Exercise not bad on aging knees
If you’re 45 or older and believe that exercise is “hard on the knees,” a new study debunks that common myth.
Researchers at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, found that older adults who engage in up to two and a half hours per week of moderate exercise do not increase their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis.
Osteoarthritis is one of the most common types of arthritis and is characterized by the breakdown of the joint’s cartilage. Cartilage is the part of the joint that cushions the ends of the bones and allows for easy movement of joints, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
The six-year follow up of more than 1,500 study participants found that people who worked out at a greater frequency—up to 5 hours a week, were at a slightly elevated risk for osteoarthritis but the difference was negligible, study leaders said.
“This study shows that engaging in physical activity at these levels is not going to put you at a greater risk of knee osteoarthritis,” said study author, Dr. Joanne Jordanshe, in a news release. “Furthermore, we found this held true no matter what a person’s race, sex or body weight is. There was absolutely no association between these factors and a person’s risk.”
The researchers defined moderate physical activities as those which cause an increase in breathing and heart rate. Experts say that regular exercise can reduce the risk of stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and can prevent falls among seniors.
For older adults, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 2 hours and 30 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activities, along with strengthening and balance exercises.
Dr. Joseph Meis, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Condell Medical Center, says it’s important for folks to loosen up before heading out to exercise.
“People need to warm up longer before sports, stretch more and maintain their body strength,” Dr. Meis says. ” If people develop joint pain during or after sports they should consider lowering the intensity or duration of their workout or, if that is not enough, finding a lower impact activity that is less stressful on the joints.”
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.