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Exercise Does Not Cause Arthritis!

Heavy people have higher rates of osteoarthritis in the knees than lighter people, presumably because of the added stress on the knees. So should heavier people avoid putting stress on their knees with exercise? No, according to a study published in the March 20, 2012 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

The Exercise and Arthritis Study

Approximately 30,000 middle-aged Norwegians answered health surveys from 1984 through 1997, when they all reported experiencing no pain. Knee arthritis was diagnosed in some of the subjects and about a third of the total subjects reported exercising at least an hour per week.


After eleven years of follow-up diagnoses, the researchers concluded that, while arthritis of the knee was more than four times as likely in the participants considered obese than in those of normal size, exercise did not increase this risk. This result held true regardless of the category of body mass index measured and regardless of the intensity of exercise performed. While these results were true of knee arthritis, hip arthritis showed no correlation to body mass index or exercise levels.


This study adds some clarity to other studies on the relationship between arthritis and exercise, which have resulted in few clear conclusions. The study did not specify which exercises were performed by the subjects. This suggests that different forms of exercise were performed, leaving open the possibility that higher impact activities, such as running, could cause or aggravate knee arthritis in the obese population.



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