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Arthritis risk reduced by exercise

by Medindia Content Team on  October 30, 2001 at 4:54 PM Research News   - G J E 4
Arthritis risk reduced by exercise
According to a study, exercise can help older people avert a form of arthritis that can change ordinary activities such as standing up and walking an impossible one.Those who regularly walked or did weight training were less likely to lose abilities to perform activities of daily living.
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According to researchers of the University School of Medicine, Texas, this report is the first to demonstrate that exercise can help people avoid relying on others for help in these ordinary activities.Penninx and her colleagues looked at 200 participants ages 60 and older. When the study started, all could perform normal activities, despite osteoarthritis of the knee. Osteoarthritis is characterized by progressive deterioration of cartilage, and affects more than 80 percent of those who reach the age of 70.

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The participants were divided into three groups: One walked for 40 minutes three times a week. Another spent the same amount of time on weight training - two sets of 10 repetitions of nine exercises, most of them for the legs. The third did no exercise and served as a comparison group.

After 15 months, 50 percent of the non-exercise group reported they had lost some or all ability to transfer from a bed to a chair, bathe, use the toilet or dress. In comparison, about 30 percent of exercisers did, and the difference between walking and weight training was so slight that researchers considered the benefits alike.

Researchers definitely think that minimum amount of exercise does help patients with arthritis in the long run.And the anti-disability benefits may extend beyond the knee, because 75 percent of the study participants had arthritis elsewhere. Previous studies have found that exercise reduces pain and improves muscle tone, balance and the ability to do things such as walk, but this is the first to go to the next level and examine prevention of disability, researchers said.

This study gives a strong foundation to current medical support for exercise. According to Dr. Marian Minor of the University of Missouri, exercise probably is best for people in early stages, before development of joint deformity, extensive cartilage loss and continuing pain.

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