(NaturalNews) Human bodies are made in such a way that physical activity is an important foundation of good health. Exercise strengthens the heart and lungs, enhances blood circulation, improves waste elimination, and lifts the mood, among many other health benefits. But there are sometimes doubts posed by some parties and even experts on the potential damage exercise could have on the joints, especially those of the legs. A review of previously conducted studies which was recently published in the Journal of Anatomy could well have debunked such opinions. It found that, with regular exercise and no prior joint injury, there was no good evidence that exercise would harm one's joints.
Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition whereby joint linings degenerate, leading to symptoms such as stiffness, loss of mobility, and pain. It is an ailment often associated with injuries, old age and general "wear-and-tear". Weight bearing joints are the most frequently affected, with over 10 million Americans said to have knee osteoarthritis, a condition which is the leading cause of disability in the United States.
Details and Findings of Study
A study team comprising members from Boston, US and Ainring, Germany looked at past studies and found that, where there was no existing injury to the joints, there was no elevation of risk of osteoarthritis arising from exercise. Said David Hunter, MD, PhD from the New England Baptist Hospital, the leader of the study: "We found that in elite athletes where there was more likelihood of obtaining sports injuries, there was an increased risk of OA [osteoarthritis] in the damaged joints, but in most people vigorous, low-impact exercise is beneficial for both its physical and mental benefits."
Additional body weight was found to be a problem. "The largest modifiable risk factor for knee OA is body weight, such that each additional kilogram of body mass increases the compressive load over the knee by roughly 4kg," Hunter also said. Logically speaking, with exercise helping to keep weight down, it could in fact serve to lower one's chances of getting osteoarthritis.
Further, exercise has been shown to help preserve bone density as well as maintain joint health; this serves to prevent and even alleviate bone conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis.
Even running, which is touted by many experts to be too harsh on the knees, may not be as bad as some people seem to think. For example, a recent Stanford University School of Medicine study concluded that "long-distance running among healthy older individuals was not associated with accelerated radiographic OA. These data raise the possibility that severe OA may not be more common among runners."
Thus, based on these studies, unless one already has a prior injury, there is very little reason to shun exercise for fear of developing osteoarthritis.
Those Already Affected By Osteoarthritis
If you have already developed the condition, you may want to look into doing exercises which strengthen the quadriceps muscles in front of your thighs, thus providing better support. You may also want to consider non-weight-bearing exercises such as cycling and swimming. If you have not been exercising for a while, it would be a good idea to start slow and gradually build yourself up. Despite the struggles, it would be well worth it in the long run for you to have a regular fitness program.
Besides regular exercise, you may also want to consider some effective natural remedies for alleviating joint inflammation and its related maladies. Omega 3 fatty acids and glucosamine are two useful nutrients for such a purpose. Acupuncture has also been found to significantly reduce osteoarthritis-related pain and disability.