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Joint Pain Forum – News you can use!

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Prevention of Arthritis is Better Than Cure

July 3, 2007

Robert W. Griffith, MD

An Australian study, published in Arthritis Research and Therapy, has shown the benefits of exercise in reducing or preventing the pain of osteoarthritis. Two groups of women, one aged 48-55 years and one 72-79 years, and who were free of joint pain, were entered in the study. Mailed questionnaires were used to obtain information on the amount of physical activity being done and the onset of symptoms suggestive of osteoarthritis (stiff or painful joints) over the 3 years of the study. Physical activity was categorized as either 'none', 'low' (one hour 15 minutes moderate activity weekly), 'moderate' (2½ hours activity weekly), and 'high' (over 2½ hours weekly).

In the older group of women, those who did low amounts of physical activity lowered their chances of developing frequent arthritis symptoms by 28%. Those who did a moderate amount lowered their risk by 46%, and those who exercised a lot lowered their risk by 39%. The beneficial effects of exercise were less in the younger women, although the reasons for this are not clear.

Why does exercise help older people in this respect? Maybe exercise has a direct effect on the joints. Other possibilities include weight loss induced by exercise, lessening the burden on the joint surfaces, and the known fact that exercise may reduce the sensitivity of pain receptors.

The choice of arthritis-directed exercise for seniors is wide. Walking, swimming, gardening, yoga, tai chi, and resistance training are all popular and will all result in health benefits, even if they aren't specific for arthritis.

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