Study finds exercise is actually good for your knees
If you've been using the fear of knee damage as an excuse to avoid exercise, it may be time to find a new excuse.
Research published Tuesday in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, reviewed 28 studies (representing nearly 10,000 participants) regarding physical activity and knee osteoarthritis.
The researchers, at Monash University in Australia, observed that many of the studies' findings appeared to conflict with one another, some finding that exercise hurt knees, others finding just the opposite or no effect one way or another. So the researchers took a new tack, teasing out the effects of exercise on individual parts of the knee. That approach revealed that exercise does appear to promote the growth of osteophytes, or bony spurs, in the knee joint. But in the absence of accompanying cartilage damage, the researchers suggest, those spurs may simply be the body's healthy response to ongoing mechanical stimulation from physical activity, not evidence of disease.
They further found that exercise did not narrow the joint space where knee cartilage is housed. Moreover, physical activity actually was associated with increased cartilage volume and fewer defects in the cartilage itself.
Taking all those findings together, they reached the surprising conclusion that exercise doesn't hurt your knees -- it helps keep them healthy.
Does this research comport with your own experience? Are you one of those runners who feels he's pounded his knees to death over the years? Or do you think running (or whatever exercise you take part in) has helped keep your knees healthy?
Jennifer LaRue Huget
| March 1, 2011; 12:54 PM ET
Categories: Arthritis, Chronic Conditions, Exercise, General Health
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