Low Impact Exercises Helps Maintain Healthy Joints Print Write e-mail
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Osteoarthritis - Osteoarthritis 2010
Written by Frank Mangano   
Thursday, 02 December 2010 20:08

Osteoarthritis is one of the many types of arthritis that causes degeneration of the joints significantly affecting a person’s quality of life.  It is oftentimes characterized by joint stiffness, swelling in the affected area and pain.   The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases said that osteoarthritis is perhaps one of the most frequently-occurring forms of arthritis – the others being rheumatoid arthritis and gout – that affects approximately 27 million people, aged 25 or more, in the United States alone.

What is Osteoarthritis?

For many years, medical experts have devoted time, effort and money in order to determine the exact cause of osteoarthritis.  Sadly, the answers remain elusive. The damage in osteoarthritis starts at the cartilage – a tough connective tissue that is found in between joints as well as in other areas of the body such as the larynx and the outer ear – which is supposed to act as a “cushion” in order to prevent the end of two bones from rubbing unto each other. In osteoarthritis, the cartilage between the joints loses its elasticity and then degenerates.  In time, the cartilage may thin out, or disappear altogether, causing bones to rub unto each other leading to extreme pain.

The following factors may lead to the development of osteoarthritis:

  • Medical experts have discovered that genes, or heredity, can actually make a person more predisposed to develop osteoarthritis.  A particular gene is responsible for collagen production.  Collagen is an important protein component in cartilage.  Abnormality in the gene may lead to premature degradation of cartilage which may cause osteoarthritis.
  • Obesity puts on excessive amounts of pressure in the joints because of the excess weight, which may cause strain. The joints that are responsible in weight-bearing, such as the hip, knee and ankle joints, are the ones that are most commonly affected.
  • Being inactive for long periods may cause the joints to become stiff, dysfunctional and painful because muscles around the joint can weaken with inactivity.
  • On the other hand, overuse of the joints, or continuously exposing them to extreme, high-impact activities can cause repetitive strains and stresses. This may also lead to joint injuries.
  • It is said that the main cause of osteoarthritis is wear-and-tear.  In old age, the joints have been exposed to too much activity since childhood and this puts the person at increased risk for osteoarthritis.

Osteoarthritis can be debilitating.  It can significantly affect a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living sometimes causing the patient to lose independence.  Symptoms of osteoarthritis include:

  • Pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Nodules in the fingers
  • Tenderness in the joints
  • Swelling
  • Crepitus (crackling sound upon joint movement)
  • Difficulty in movement

A Study on Osteoarthritis

The effects of osteoarthritis can be devastating.  This propels people, especially those who are in the field of medicine, to continuously look for ways to prevent the onset of the condition or to somehow slow its progression.

In line with this, a group of researchers enrolled 132 participants (66 men and 99 women whose ages ranged from 45 to 55) in the National Institutes of Health Osteoarthritis Initiative who have not exhibited signs and symptoms of osteoarthritis but whose risk for developing osteoarthritis of the knee is high.  In addition, 33 body mass index- and age-matched controls were also included in the study.

Basing on the participant’s response to the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (PASE) questionnaire, they were divided into three strength training and exercise levels.  The strength training groups were divided as to how often they performed these exercises:  none at all, minimal only and frequently.  The exercise levels were composed of sedentary, light and moderate to strenuous. Also, analysis was made on knee-bending activities.

What the Study Revealed

According to the senior author of the study, Dr. Thomas M. Link, the results revealed that joining in high impact activities like running for more than an hour daily, thrice a week or more, is linked to more cartilage degeneration and can potentially increase the risk for osteoarthritis development.  On one hand, participating in light exercise and avoiding repeated knee-bending activities can protect a person from osteoarthritis. Dr. Link is from San Francisco’s University of California, a chief of musculoskeletal imaging and a professor of radiology.

The participants were asked to undergo MRI exams, which showed that the group who engaged in light exercises and those with minimal strength training had the healthiest cartilage in the knee, as compared to the participants who either had frequent or no strength training at all. Women who indulged in moderate to strenuous exercises and did strength training were also linked to increased water content and degenerated collagen in their knees. A co-author of the study, Keegan K. Novis, B.S., R.N., said that the results suggests that performing moderate to strenuous exercises can speed up the degeneration of cartilage, putting women at a higher risk for osteoarthritis.

Moreover, the findings also indicated that doing knee-bending activities frequently, like climbing up more than 10 flights of stairs per day, squatting or kneeling for a minimum of 30 minutes daily, or lifting objects that weighs more than 25 pound, were linked to cartilage abnormalities and higher water content.


The researchers suggested that performing light exercises, like frequent walking and swimming, is a much safer choice in order to help maintain healthy cartilage and, of course, healthy joints.

How to Promote Healthy Joints Naturally

You probably have heard this many times already, but nevertheless, I’ll say it again: healthy eating helps promote a healthy body.  Contrary to what some people say, taking medications does not cure everything.  Aside from the expenses, you are also in danger of adverse effects that it can bring.  How about going for what is natural? You could start with making the decision to eat healthy, and eat foods that will help promote healthy joints.  Here are some of them:

  • Glucosamine is a compound that produces glycosaminoglycan which is needed for healthy cartilage.  Some of the foods that are rich in glucosamine include sweet almond oil, crab shells, lobster shells and shrimp shells.
  • Manganese is a mineral that helps build healthy cartilage. This supports the function of glucosamine inside the body.  Examples of food sources of manganese are nuts, green leafy vegetables, seafoods, whole grain breads and beans.
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids exert anti-inflammatory effects that helps ease swelling and pain associated with osteoarthritis.  Top food sources for Omega-3 Fatty Acids are egg yolks, walnuts, flax seeds, cod liver oil, and salmon.
  • Vitamin C helps the body in forming collagen which is a protein found in cartilage, tendons and bones.  Examples are kiwi fruit, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, papaya, potatoes, peaches, nectarines, lychees, raspberries, grapefruit, guava, black currant, orange, lemon, cabbage, cauliflower, and many more.





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