We often hear about the benefits of exercise, but new information from the University of California, San Francisco, indicates that an excess of physical activity might be a bad thing.
Older men and women who run or exercise vigorously on a regular basis might be harming their knees and other joints. The team learned that this increases their risk for osteoarthritis as they age further.
"Our data suggest that people with higher physical activity levels may be at greater risk for developing knee abnormalities and, thus, at higher risk for developing osteoarthritis," explained Dr. Christoph Stehling, a research fellow at the university.
Study participants had MRI scans taken of their knees, and individuals who had higher activity levels—as indicated via the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly test scores—had greater knee damage. Researchers observed knee problems such as cartilage lesions, bone marrow edema and ligament lesions in those who were most physically active.
If you enjoy exercise but want to protect your joints, it might be a good idea to look into swimming or water aerobics. Other low-impact activities like using an eliptical machine might also minimize age-related joint damage.