Exercise won’t bring on knee arthritis

The study included data from 1,522 people and tested whether or not there was an association between getting 150 minutes of physical activity per week and the development of knee osteoarthritis. (Credit: Bard College at Simon's Rock/Flickr)

Up to two and a half hours of moderate exercise a week won’t increase the odds of getting knee osteoarthritis, according to new research.

Study participants (age 45 and up) who engaged in the highest levels of physical activity—up to 5 hours a week—did have a slightly higher risk of knee osteoarthritis, but the difference was not statistically significant.

Those findings taken together are good news, says Joanne Jordan, senior study author and director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. The study appears in Arthritis Care & Research.

“This study shows that engaging in physical activity at these levels is not going to put you at a greater risk of knee osteoarthritis,” she says. “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.”

“Moderate physical activities are those that produce some increase in heart rate or breathing, like rapid walking,” says corresponding author Kamil Barbour of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Meeting physical activity recommendations through these simple activities are a great way to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases.”

The results are based on an analysis of data collected from 1999 to 2010 as part of UNC’s long-running Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, a prospective, population-based study of knee, hip, hand, and spine osteoarthritis and disability in African Americans and Caucasians, aged 45 years and older.

This new analysis included data from 1,522 study participants and tested whether or not there was an association between meeting Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines for 150 minutes of physical activity per week and the development of knee osteoarthritis, as confirmed both by X-rays and the presence of knee pain or other symptoms.

The study’s findings support HHS recommendations and concludes that activities such as walking, conditioning exercises and household activities such as gardening or yard work that amount to moderate weekly levels of physical activity should continue to be encouraged.

The Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project is funded by the CDC and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases (NIAMS).

Source: UNC-Chapel Hill

Original Study DOI: 10.1002/acr.22120 < a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/acr.22120/abstract" target="_blank" class="source-link">openbookFull Citation