Moderate physical activity does not increase risk of knee osteoarthritis, study finds
Study participants who engaged in the highest levels of physical activity – up to five hours per week – did have a slightly higher risk of knee osteoarthritis, but the difference was not statistically significant.
Those findings taken together are good news, said senior study author Joanne Jordan, MD, MPH, director of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center. Jordan is also Joseph P. Archie Jr. Eminent Professor of Medicine and chief of the division of rheumatology, allergy and immunology in the UNC School of Medicine and adjunct professor of epidemiology in UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health.
Kamil Barbour, PhD, an epidemiologist and researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, is corresponding author of the study, published online Aug. 27 in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.
The results are based on analysis of data collected from 1999 to 2010 as part of UNC’s long-running Johnston County Osteoarthritis Project, a prospective, population-based study of knee, hip, hand and spine osteoarthritis and disability in African-Americans and Caucasians, ages 45 years and older. This project is funded by the CDC and the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
This new analysis included data from 1,522 study participants and tested whether or not there was an association between meeting Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) guidelines for 150 minutes of physical activity per week and the development of knee osteoarthritis, as confirmed both by X-rays and the presence of knee pain or other symptoms.
The study’s findings support HHS recommendations and conclude that activities that amount to moderate weekly levels of physical activity – e.g., walking, conditioning exercises and household activities such as gardening or yard work – should continue to be encouraged.
Co-authors from the Gillings School are Bill Kalsbeek, PhD, professor, and Todd Schwartz, DrPH, research assistant professor, both in the School’s Department of Biostatistics. Other authors are Jordan Renner, MD, professor of radiology in the UNC School of Medicine, and from the CDC, Jennifer Hootman, PhD, Charles Helmick, MD, Louise Murphy, PhD, and Kristina Theis, MPH.