No link found between exercise and developing arthritis in the knee

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OXFORD, United Kingdom — Exercise may be good for your health, but does all that wear and tear on the joints eventually take a toll? An international team says the answer appears to be no. A new study finds there is no link between exercise and developing arthritis in the knee.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 32 million adults in the United States have osteoarthritis, with the knee being one of the most common trouble spots. Osteoarthritis (OA) is more common in women and older adults, with obesity also being another common risk factor.

The analysis included six global community-based studies, examining 5,065 participants with and without knee osteoarthritis. Researchers followed these individuals for five to 12 years.

Heavy workloads are still an issue

Although the study found that recreational exercise like running, cycling, swimming, or playing sports has little to no impact on the knee, any occupation that involves heavy physical work loads, kneeling, whole body vibration, and repetitive movements is still risky. On the other hand, the review of adults over 45 years-old finds recreational activities are mostly free of injury risk.

“Our findings suggest that whole-body, physiological energy expenditure during recreational activities and time spent in physical activity were not associated with incident knee OA outcomes,” researchers write in the journal Arthritis & Rheumatology.

The international team adds that a further investigation into all the components of physical activity — including the type of activity, intensity, frequency, and duration people go through — over a lifetime would help paint a fuller picture of this link. That data, however, would be incredibly difficult to obtain.

“Given what we also know about the effects of manual occupation on knee osteoarthritis it would be useful to understand the association between activities according to loading, along with relative lifetime volume (intensity and duration) on knee osteoarthritis using prospective investigation,” researchers tell SWNS in a statement.

“Knowing that the amount of physical activity and time spent doing it is not associated with the development of knee osteoarthritis is important evidence for both clinicians and the public who may need to consider this when prescribing physical activity for health,” Dr. Thomas Perry from the University of Oxford concludes in a media release.

South West News Service writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.