Not true, says Paul Williams, an exercise scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, who leads the National Runners’ Health Study and the National Walkers’ Health Study.
If anything, says Williams, running actually appears to offer protection from osteoarthritis.
Williams and his colleagues have conducted studies enlisting almost 90,000 runners and walkers, following them since the studies began, in 1991 and 1997.
In an analysis recently published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, Williams found that runners who ran the most had the lowest risk of osteoarthritis.
“There’s a perception out there that somehow you’re wearing out your joints if you’re out there running,” Williams says, but the thousands of runners in his study show this just isn’t so.
“I’ve recruited people who were doing 60 or 70 miles per week, and we’ve followed them over time,” he says. “If there had been an effect, we would have seen it.”
The notion that running causes osteoarthritis arises from a misperception about how joints work, says Alex Hutchinson, a science journalist for Runner’s World.
“People think the joint is just a static, inert hinge that wears down, but it’s actually a dynamic, living thing that can respond to stress and adapt and get stronger,” Hutchinson says.
“Rather than wear down cartilage and other joint tissue, running appears to strengthen them,” said Hutchinson.
Patience White, vice president for public health policy and advocacy at the Arthritis Foundation, also explains that the latest research shows that osteoarthritis isn’t only a result of wear and tear on your joints.
“Instead, the disease arises from an interplay between environment and genetics. The strongest risk factors for osteoarthritis are obesity and family history,” says White.
Source: The Washington Post: Health and Science
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