Save your knees with this exercise

Save your knees with this exercise

Good news for bicyclists: Bicycling may be the best exercise for your knees.

A new American College of Sports Medicine study analyzed data from over 2,600 participants between the ages of 45 and 79. They were asked about their cycling habits during four periods of their life. Participants who biked consistently were 17% less likely to develop knee pain and 21% less likely to develop symptoms of knee arthritis.

“Bicycling is a great way to maintain cardiovascular fitness while putting less stress on your knees,” says Dr. Calvin Luu, a sports medicine physician at Advocate Health Care. “It’s a non-weightbearing, low-impact activity which can help maintain or build strength and stability of your lower body.”

The study also revealed it didn’t matter if you cycled inside or outside.

Adding a cycling routine to your exercise regimen may:
  • Increase your knees’ range of motion
  • Assist in weight loss
  • Improve balance and coordination

“Choosing the right bike is also important as an incorrect saddle or handlebar height can cause additional problems. If you’re deciding to purchase a bike, I would recommend visiting a bike shop for a fitting,” Dr. Luu adds.

When you think of arthritis, you might think of osteoarthritis. “In osteoarthritis, the cartilage is damaged and worn down, increasing friction between bones, which can lead to knee pain, swelling and stiffness,” says Dr. Luu. “Arthritis of the knees can make walking, climbing stairs or kneeling difficult.”

Almost everyone is at risk for developing arthritis in their life.

You may be at an increased risk for arthritis if:

  • You’re a woman
  • You’re obese
  • You’re age 50 or older
  • You have an injury to a joint, such as a fracture
  • You have other medical conditions, such as gout or rheumatoid arthritis

“Exercise is an integral part of prevention and treatment of osteoarthritis. ‘Motion is lotion,’” Dr. Luu says. He also recommends 150 minutes, or about 2 and a half hours, of moderate intensity activity per week.

Along with bicycling, other low-impact, knee-strengthening aerobic activities include:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Rowing
  • Resistance training
  • Flexibility training

Do you have hip or knee pain? Take a free online quiz here to learn more.

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Sammy Kalski