Exercise Is Actually Good for the Knees

March 1, 2011

Findings from a study looking at impact on individual parts of the knee shows that physical activity is beneficial to joint health.

For years, studies have offered conflicting opinions on the impact exercise has on the knees.

A new report released today by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides strong evidence that exercise is beneficial for the knees. In a research study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Donna Urquhart, PhD, and Flavia Cicuttini, PhD, examined the effects of physical activity on individual parts of the knee.

“Several studies have already examined the impact of physical activity on the knee as a whole, but none have looked at the effect of physical activity on individual parts of the knee,” said Cicuttini, who is head of the musculoskeletal unit in the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University in Australia. “As it turns out, exercise affects each part of the knee differently, which helps explain why there have been conflicting reports for so long.”

The researchers found that the link between physical activity and specific knee structures differed, with strong evidence for a positive relationship between activity and tibiofemoral osteophytes, absence of an association between physical activity and joint space narrowing, and strong evidence for an inverse relationship between physical activity and cartilage defects, the authors wrote.

“These findings are significant, as they suggest that osteophytes, in the absence of cartilage damage, may just be a functional adaptation to mechanical stimuli,” said Urquhart.

The report comprised data from 28 studies, representing 9,737 participants from all parts of the world. All included studies examined the relationship between physical activity and knee osteoarthritis and also included MRI evidence of osteoarthritic knees when investigating disease progression or healthy knees when investigating disease incidence.

Osteoarthritis—a degenerative joint disease that attacks cartilage and underlying bone and often preys on knees, hips and hands—affects nearly 27 million Americans and is the leading cause of disability in noninstitutionalized adults.

Source: American College of Sports Medicine

For more information, visit HCPLive’s Osteoarthritis Condition Resources.