Effects of Physical Activity in Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis: A Systematic Umbrella Review

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2019 Jun;51(6):1324-1339. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001944.


Introduction: We conducted a systematic umbrella review to evaluate the literature relating to effects of physical activity on pain, physical function, health-related quality of life, comorbid conditions and osteoarthritis (OA) structural disease progression in individuals with lower-extremity OA.

Methods: Our primary search encompassed 2011 to February 2018 for existing systematic reviews (SR), meta-analyses (MA) and pooled analyses dealing with physical activity including exercise (not mixed with any other intervention and compared to a no-activity control group). A supplementary search encompassed 2006 to February 2018 for original research related to physical activity (including exercise) and lower limb OA progression. Study characteristics were abstracted, and risk of bias was assessed.

Results: Physical activity decreased pain and improved physical function (strong evidence) and improved health-related quality of life (moderate evidence) among people with hip or knee OA relative to less active adults with OA. There was no evidence to suggest accelerated OA progression for physical activity below 10,000 steps per day. Both physical activity equivalent to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (150 min·wk of moderate-intensity exercise in bouts ≥10 min) and lower levels of physical activity (at least 45 total minutes per week of moderate-intensity) were associated with improved or sustained high function. No SR/MA addressing comorbid conditions in OA were found. Measurable benefits of physical activity appeared to persist for periods of up to 6 months following cessation of a defined program.

Conclusions: People with lower-extremity OA should be encouraged to engage in achievable amounts of physical activity, of even modest intensities. They can choose to accrue minutes of physical activity throughout the entire day, irrespective of bout duration, and be confident in gaining some health and arthritis-related benefits.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research
  • Comorbidity
  • Disease Progression
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Osteoarthritis, Hip / physiopathology*
  • Osteoarthritis, Knee / physiopathology*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / prevention & control*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Quality of Life*