Non-elite level activity does not increase
risk of osteoarthritis.
There is no good evidence supporting a harmful effect of exercise
on joints in the setting of normal joints and regular exercise,
according to a review of studies published in this month's issue
of the Journal of Anatomy.
Exercise is an extremely popular leisure-time activity in many
countries throughout the Western world and has for many become
part of the modern lifestyle. It is widely promoted in as being
beneficial for weight control, disease management in cardiovascular
disease and diabetes, and for improving psychological well-being
amongst an array of other benefits. In contrast, however, the
lay press and community perception is also that exercise is
potentially deleterious to one's joints, in particular those
of the lower extremities.
Researchers from Boston, USA, and Ainring, Germany, reviewed
existing studies on the relationship between regular exercise
and osteoarthritis (OA) and concluded that in the absence of
existing joint injury there is no increased risk of OA from
"We found that in elite athletes where there was more likelihood
of obtaining sports injuries, there was an increased risk of
OA in the damaged joints, but in most people vigorous, low-impact
exercise is beneficial for both it's physical and mental benefits,"
said lead researcher David Hunter MD PhD, New England Baptist
Hospital. "The largest modifiable risk factor for knee OA is
body weight, such that each additional kilogram of body mass
increases the compressive load over the knee by roughly 4kg".
One might surmise therefore that exercise to reduce body-weight,
where necessary, could in fact reduce the risk of OA, rather
than increase it.
The knee is the joint most commonly affected by the symptoms
of osteoarthritis. More than 10 million Americans suffer from
knee osteoarthritis, the most common cause of disability in
the United States and women are more commonly affected than