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No Link Seen Between Exercise, Knee Osteoarthritis

Studies find that regular, moderate activity has no effect on development or progression of disease

THURSDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- Middle-aged and older adults who exercise regularly do not affect their risk of developing knee osteoarthritis or increase its progression, according to the results of two studies published in the February issue of Arthritis Care & Research.

David T. Felson, M.D., of the Boston University School of Medicine, and colleagues followed 1,279 subjects from the Framingham Study for nine years. In normal-weight and overweight subjects, they found that exercise neither increased nor decreased the risk of osteoarthritis and also had no effect on joint-space loss.

J.N. Belo., M.D., of Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues reviewed 37 studies published through December 2003 and found that regular exercise was unrelated to the progression of knee osteoarthritis. Factors that predicted progression included generalized osteoarthritis and high levels of hyaluronic acid.

"This community-based study by Felson et al. is a step toward evidence-based recommendations regarding exercise and the risk for knee osteoarthritis," states the author of an accompanying editorial. "Prior research performed with subjects with existing joint disease also indicated that moderate exercise did not exacerbate disease, and may have a number of beneficial effects. Therefore, regular moderate physical activity can be recommended for people with and without knee osteoarthritis with a fair degree of certainty in its safety and effectiveness for improving function and general health."

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