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Relieve Arthritis Pain With Exercise


Results of a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine suggest that exercise may help to prevent disability in older adults with knee osteoarthritis.  

Disability in activities of daily living (ADL), which affects about 20% of older adults, refers to difficulty performing essential daily activities, including bathing, dressing, using the toilet, eating, and transferring positions.  

Osteoarthritis is characterized by breakdown of joint cartilage and affects roughly 20.7 million Americans, age 45 and older.

Researchers assigned 250 older adults with knee osteoarthritis to an 18-month aerobic exercise program (vigorous walking), muscle resistance training, or attention control sessions (in which participants learned about arthritis management). Information on disability was collected every three months via a 30-item questionnaire and scored according to the level of difficulty with various tasks.

Participants assigned to aerobic or resistance exercise developed significantly less disability than those attending attention control sessions. Similarly, the exercise groups had less than half the risk of developing an ADL disability than their attention control peers. In both programs, individuals who complied the most with their exercise prescription experienced the greatest benefit.

Exercise has been shown to improve muscle strength, bone mass, and flexibility and increase aerobic capacity. In patients with osteoarthritis, it may also reduce pain. The results of this study show that physical activity may be an effective way to prevent future disability in older adults with osteoarthritis, thereby improving quality of life.


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