People over the age of 45 who enjoy moderate physical activity can probably stop worrying about increasing their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis. A new study finds that this level of exercise, up to two and a half hours a week, did not increase the risk for a group of people studied over a six-year period.
Study participants who engaged in the highest levels of physical activity – up to 5 hours a week – did have a slightly higher risk of knee osteoarthritis, but the difference was not statistically significant, according to a news release from the University of North Carolina Health Care.
Those findings taken together are good news, said Joanne Jordan, MD, MPH, senior study author and director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center in the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.
“This study shows that engaging in physical activity at these levels is not going to put you at a greater risk of knee osteoarthritis,” she said. “Furthermore, we found this held true no matter what a person’s race, sex or body weight is. There was absolutely no association between these factors and a person’s risk.”
Moderal physical activity includes exercise like rapid walking, which produces some increase in heart rate and breathing, said Kamil Barbour, corresponding author of the study. The study was published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.
“Moderate physical activities are those that produce some increase in heart rate or breathing, like rapid walking,” Barbour said. “Meeting physical activity recommendations through these simple activities are a great way to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other diseases,” Barbour said in the news release.
The results are based on an analysis of data collected from 1999 to 2010 as part of UNC’s long-running Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, a prospective, population-based study of knee, hip, hand and spine osteoarthritis and disability in African Americans and Caucasians, aged 45 years and older. This project is funded by the CDC and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases.
The study’s findings conclude “that activities such as walking, conditioning exercises and household activities such as gardening or yard work that amount to moderate weekly levels of physical activity should continue to be encouraged,” the release states.
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