HealthDay News — There is no association between long-term strenuous physical activity participation and incident radiographic knee osteoarthritis (KOA), according to a study published online May 4 in JAMA Network Open.

Alison H. Chang, P.T., D.P.T., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues followed 1,194 community-dwelling adults (58.4 percent women) at high risk for KOA, recruited from four U.S. sites (Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh; and Pawtucket, Rhode Island) to evaluate trajectories of strenuous physical activity participation and extensive sitting behavior on joint health.

The researchers found that long-term engagement in low-to-moderate physical activities (adjusted odds ratio, 0.69; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.48 to 1.01) or any strenuous physical activities (adjusted odds ratio, 0.75; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.53 to 1.07) was not associated with 10-year incident radiographic KOA. There was no association noted between persistent, extensive sitting and incident KOA. Despite relatively mild symptoms and high function, nearly half of participants (49.7 percent) did not engage in any strenuous physical activities, while 42.5 percent engaged in a persistent moderate-to-high frequency of extensive sitting. Persistent lack of engagement in strenuous physical activities was associated with older age, higher body mass index, more severe knee pain, noncollege graduate educational level, weaker quadriceps, and depression.

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“These findings suggest that older adults at high risk for knee osteoarthritis may safely engage in strenuous physical activities at a moderate level to improve their general health,” the authors write.

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