Think Exercise is Bad for Your Knees? Think Again!

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Over the years, I've gotten some interesting comments when family or friends find out I'm a runner. "Be careful- that stuff is terrible for your knees!" or "Why would you want to do that kind of damage to your joints?" are some of the most memorable. While I laugh a little on the inside, I politely explain to them that exercise is good for your joints, and running is no more likely to cause knee problems than anything else, since I'm healthy and have had no knee issues in the past. People are usually surprised at that response. Now I have new research to back up my claims that exercise is, in fact, good for your knees.

The American College of Sports Medicine has released a new report that examines the effects of exercise on the knee joint. Previous research has looked at the impact of physical activity on the knee as a whole, but this is the first study to look at its effect on individual parts of the knee. The research found that exercise affects each part of the knee differently, which might explain why previous studies have produced conflicting results.

The report looked at data from 28 previous studies which involved almost 10,000 participants. These previous studies all looked at the relationship between osteoarthritis of the knee and physical activity. "According to the team’s findings, while exercise was linked to osteophytes, or bony spurs, there were no detrimental changes to joint space, the place where cartilage is housed. There were beneficial effects on cartilage integrity, with evidence of greater volumes and fewer defects." This means that exercise actually helped improve the cartilage in between joints instead of breaking it down.

Osteoarthritis is caused by the breakdown and eventual loss of the cartilage of one or more joints- in this case, the knees. It can cause joint pain, stiffness, swelling and other problems that limit mobility. Interested in learning more about this condition and how exercise can help? Check out our Osteoarthritis Condition Center for more information.

What do you think? If you're someone who has knee problems, have you found that exercise helps?