Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco have found that simple changes to a person’s physical activity regimen may help to prevent osteoarthritis, as well as delay its onset.
Thomas M. Link, the study’s senior author, said that while intense exercises have been previously found to create a higher risk for osteoarthritis, “engaging in light exercise and refraining from frequent knee-bending activities may protect against the onset of the disease.”
Approximately 27 million Americans who are at least 25-years-old suffer from osteoarthritis, according to the latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
For the investigation, the researchers examined 132 people who were at-risk for knee osteoarthritis along with 33 controls. The participants were designated to one of three groups that included exercise levels that were either sedentary, light or moderate to strenuous. Knee-bending activities were also analyzed.
Overall, the light exercisers had the healthiest knee cartilage compared to the other exercise-level participants. The scientists also found that frequent knee-bending activities, such as lifting heavy objects or walking up stairs, were associated with cartilage damage and higher water content in the knee.
According to the researchers, maintaining a healthy weight and participating in low-impact sports like walking or swimming could help to reduce a person’s risk for osteoarthritis.