For whatever reason, people tend to believe that using your body will eventually lead it into disrepair. But the opposite is true: using your body keeps your joints and the rest of you healthy.
Jogging or walking, for example, are unlikely to increase the risk for knee arthritis. Running is indeed an expensive past-time — it takes a lot of energy and can lead to injury — but it likely helps build stronger joints.
Remember, arthritis is a chronic condition and not an acute injury. Playing basketball and jumping can boost the risk for an awkward landing and an injury. Running too far or too hard without experience can lead to a fracture. But these injuries are unlikely to produce arthritis.
Some new research took a look to see if the amount of time or energy used for exercise was associated with arthritis risk. A team examined six clinical trials conducted around the globe, featuring more than 5,000 people. They were followed from 5-12 years for any signs of knee arthritis.
The studies showed that the amount of time a person spends exercising, or how much energy they use, had nothing to do with knee pain or arthritic symptoms.
Of course, some sports are riskier than others. You are more likely to suffer an injury downhill skiing or sprinting than going for a walk around the neighborhood or for a light jog on a treadmill.
In actuality, exercise may help reduce the risk of joint pain and arthritis. Flexing and extending joints help bring in fluid, so they not only move easier but receive adequate nutrition.
Exercise can also offer a metabolic boost that can help limit joint inflammation. Other benefits include greater stability from enhanced muscle strength and greater balance.
More activity, like walking or jogging, can also lead to weight loss which can ease the burden on joints.
So if you’re worried about exercising because you think it may lead your body to break down, think again. It will likely do just the opposite.