Losing Weight by Exercising Doesn’t Protect Your Knees, These Experts Say

Losing Weight by Exercising Doesn’t Protect Your Knees, These Experts Say

If you’re obese and have weak joints, exercise could be good for your heart.  But not so beneficial for your cartilage.

Over 7 million Americans are now walking about with artificial hips and knees. This is a great tribute to the power of modern medicine to keep us going when times get rough.

The pain, however, leading up to a hip or knee replacement is something most people would wish to avoid. And being able to keep your natural joints healthy and in good shape is always preferable to having to undergo major surgery.

One of the main factors leading to bad knees in particular, is obesity. It’s a major risk factor for osteoarthritis and often results in the cartilage in the knee being broken down over the years. One has to carry around all that excess weight, and it puts strain on the joints.


Obese people with bad knees benefit more from dieting than exercise.

Of course, there are solutions. You can’t regenerate your cartilage once it’s lost, but it is possible to slow or stop the process.

It’s well known that getting more exercise and losing weight by altering your diet is a good route to take.

Researchers from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, say that exercise isn’t enough, though. If you’re obese and wanting to save your knees, other methods are better.

In a study that involved 760 men and women with a body mass index of more than 25, participants who lost weight through exercise alone found that their knee cartilage was in no better shape after the fact, than those who didn’t lose any weight at all.

Who saw progress? Only participants who lost weight through changes in their diet, or through both exercising and dieting combined. This group found that their knee cartilage degenerated less during the study.

“These results add to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet,” said Alexandra Gersing, M.D., the study’s lead author.

The new MRI study was presented this month at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA). It’s a drop in the bucket that could pave the way for changes in weight loss plans to come.

Photo credits: JPC-PROD/Shutterstock.com; JPC-PROD/Shutterstock.com




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