Exercise and osteoarthritis

J Anat. 2009 Feb;214(2):197-207. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7580.2008.01013.x.


Exercise remains an extremely popular leisure time activity in many countries throughout the western world. It is widely promoted in the lay press as having salutory benefits for weight control, disease management advantages for cardiovascular disease and diabetes, in addition to improving psychological well-being amongst an array of other benefits. In contrast, however, the lay press and community perception is also that exercise is potentially deleterious to one's joints. The purpose of this review is to consider what osteoarthritis (OA) is and provide an overview of the epidemiology of OA focusing on validated risk factors for its development. In particular the role of both exercise and occupational activity in OA will be described as well as the role of exercise to the joints' tissues (particularly cartilage) and the role of exercise in disease management. Despite the common misconception that exercise is deleterious to one's joints, in the absence of joint injury there is no evidence to support this notion. Rather it would appear that exercise has positive salutory benefits for joint tissues in addition to its other health benefits.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging / physiology
  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Athletic Injuries / pathology
  • Cartilage, Articular / injuries*
  • Cartilage, Articular / pathology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joints / injuries*
  • Joints / pathology
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / pathology
  • Osteoarthritis / etiology*
  • Osteoarthritis / pathology