High Strain, Low Strength Activities Increase Arthritis Risk

Dutch researchers studied the effects of different types of physical activity on knee osteoarthritis in older adults. Four components of physical activity were evaluated in 1678 patients over a 12 year period. Physical activity was categorized into four groups: muscle strength, intensity, mechanical strain, and turning actions. No association was found between the development of knee osteoarthritis and the intensity of a physical activity. No association was found between knee osteoarthritis and activities with turning actions. There was also no difference between the development of osteoarthritis in men and women nor for obese and non-obese individuals.

The researchers did find that a higher incidence of knee osteoarthritis in those who participated in physical activities with high mechanical strain. There was also a higher incidence of knee osteoarthritis in those who participated in mainly low muscle strength activities. Examples of high mechanical strain activities would be dancing and tennis. Examples of low muscle strength activities would be fishing or light housework.

The researchers concluded that older adults who perform low muscle strength activities or activities with high mechanical strain, are more likely to develop osteoarthritis of the knee.

Verweij LM, van Schoor NM, Deeg DJ, Dekker J, Visser M. Physical activity and incident clinical knee osteoarthritis in older adults. Arthritis Rheum. 2009 Feb 15;61(2):152-7.

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