Dr. Kim Huffman, an avid runner, gets a fair amount of guff from friends about the impact that her favorite exercise has on her body.”People all the time tell me, ‘Oh, you wait until you’re 60. Your knees are going to hate you for it’,” Huffman shares. “And I’m like, ‘That’s ridiculous’.” Next time the topic comes up, Huffman is well-armed. An extensive British analysis of prior study data has found no link between a person’s amount of exercise and their risk for knee arthritis.
What the study shows
The research team combined the results of six clinical trials conducted at different places around the globe, creating a pool of more than 5,000 people who were followed for 5 to 12 years for signs of knee arthritis.
In each clinical trial, researchers tracked participants’ daily activities and estimated the amount of energy they expended in physical exertion.
Neither the amount of energy burned during exercise nor the amount of time spent in physical activity had anything to do with knee pain or arthritis symptoms, the researchers concluded.
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Dispelling the myth that exercising causes arthritis
“This helps dispel a myth that I’ve been trying to dispel for quite a while,” Huffman, an associate professor at the Duke University Medical Center’s division of rheumatology says.
“If you add up the amounts of activity that people do and also the duration of activity, neither of those is associated with knee arthritis,” Huffman adds.
This “further corroborates the fact that levels of exercise in one’s personal life do not increase the risk, the onset or progression of osteoarthritis,” Dr. Bert Mandelbaum, chief medical officer of the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer club and team physician for the U.S. Soccer Men’s National Team says.
So where did this misconception come from?
Huffman thinks it’s because people mistake exercise-related injuries for the effect that exercise itself has on your joints.