1. Health

How Much Exercise Is Just Right for Osteoarthritis?

By December 22, 2012

Follow me on:

There are a lot of people with osteoarthritis who believe they can't exercise enough to matter. There are some who even believe exercise will make their condition worse by accelerating cartilage damage and increasing pain. Yet, all we hear is that people should exercise to prevent osteoarthritis, and for those who already have the disease, to decrease symptoms. What's the truth? How much exercise would be just right? Does exercise make things better or worse?

Researchers from The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) presented findings at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America that address some of those questions. Interestingly, the findings showed that very high and very low levels of exercise (or physical activity) can accelerate the degeneration of knee cartilage. Yes, both.

There were 205 middle-aged adults in the study that evaluated knee cartilage over a four-year period. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was used to measure degenerative changes to the knee cartilage. Study participants also responded to questionnaires about their level of exercise. Results showed that patients who were the most physically active had accelerated degeneration of knee cartilage over time, especially those who participated in high-impact activities. Those with the lowest level of physical activity also demonstrated accelerated degeneration of knee cartilage and higher risk of developing osteoarthritis.

Researchers concluded that moderate physical activity appears most beneficial to prevent cartilage degeneration in patients at risk for osteoarthritis. Low-impact activities, as opposed to high-impact activities, would also be preferred to decrease cartilage degeneration.

Related Articles:

Follow Me:

Facebook | Twitter (OA) | Message Board | Newsletter

Photo by Ana Abejon (iStockphoto)

December 25, 2012 at 4:22 pm
(1) Sophie says:

What so many people seem to be confused about is exercise (such as aqua aerobics or walking) is different from doing exercises. You need to exercise for your general health as well as for all your joints. If you have osteoarthritis you need to do a targeted program of exercises for the affected joint.

This program should contain stretching, isometric strengthening exercises (when the joint is not moved) and isotonic exercises (when the joint is moved). It should start off gently, build up over 4 to 6 weeks and then drop off again to a regular maintenance level to keep your OA controlled in the medium and long term.

It is vital the program is specifically designed for the individual and for how their osteoarthritis affects them. Do too many of an exercise and you will aggravate your pain. Do too little and you will make no difference.

A targeted exercise program for osteoarthritis will give the person relief from the pain and stiffness, general exercise is vital for good health!

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.