What does physical activity have to do with osteoarthritis (OA)?

Geraldine M. Navarro, MD
Physical activity decreases the risk of osteoarthritis (OA). It reduces pain, improves the function of joints, increases mobility and gives the person more energy. In general, physical activity improves mood, weight-control and sleep. It decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease and improves quality of life and psychological wellbeing.

Osteoarthritis is debilitating and frustrating for the patient that wants to exercise. The pain associated with it can certainly be discouraging but exercise can actually help in some cases. You should see your doctor for recommendations for exercise and possible treatments that will help you relieve the pain associated with Osteoarthritis and allow you to exercise safely. At the end of the day, it is up to you and your doctor to see to it that you can and are able to continue to be active.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Physical activity is absolutely crucial to both preventing and treating osteoarthritis (OA). Exercise keeps your joints flexible, builds strong bones and muscles to support your joints, builds bone strength and keeps your cartilage healthy and strong -- all of which prevent OA.

If you already have OA, exercise also helps you manage joint pain. If you're already physically active, you may need to change your activities a bit to take your OA into account. You may need to switch from those weekend warrior basketball games to more balanced exercise like walking, swimming, biking, yoga or stretching. If you're inactive and want to start exercising as a way to help your OA, avoid any activity that puts a lot of stress on your joints, such as running or aerobics. Talk to your doctor about exercise, especially if you have other health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. You may need to work with a physical therapist who can develop an exercise program that works for you.

Being physically active, but not overdoing it, is one way to prevent osteoporosis. It also relieves the pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis.

Exercise strengthens muscles around the joints, which increases flexibility and takes some of the pressure off them to slow the progression of osteoarthritis. Moving the joints also releases lubricating fluids that help keep cartilage healthy.

Physical activity also helps to ward off weight gain. For every excess pound a person weighs, four pounds of added pressure is put on the knee joints, which can lead to or worsen osteoarthritis. A physical therapist can help design an exercise program that will minimize the effects of osteoarthritis.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.