For years, studies have offered conflicting opinions on whether exercise is good for knees. A new report released today by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) provides strong evidence that exercise is, in fact, good for the knees.
The report, titled “What is the Effect of Physical Activity on the Knee Joint? A Systematic Review,” was published this month in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, ACSM’s official scientific journal. A research study led by Donna Urquhart, Ph.D., and Flavia Cicuttini, Ph.D., 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 Dr. Cicuttini, 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.”
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.
“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 Dr. 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.
American College of Sports Medicine