JUN 20, 2024 11:30 AM PDT

Benefits of Regular Exercise for Arthritis

WRITTEN BY: Savannah Logan

New research published in the journal Pain has explored the frequency of exercise and attitudes towards exercise in people with knee osteoarthritis.

Knee osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint disease that can cause pain, stiffness, and instability in the knee. Regular exercise is well known to reduced pain and other symptoms in people with knee osteoarthritis; however, only about one in ten people with the condition regularly exercise. A new study sought to understand why patients with knee osteoarthritis avoid exercise and what can be done to combat this trend.

In the study, over 550 participants were given an online survey to measure their implicit attitudes toward exercise. About half of the participants had painful knee osteoarthritis, about 200 participants had no pain, and about 100 participants had leg pain that was not related to knee osteoarthritis. All participants completed an implicit association test that showed images of people participating in physical activity or of people sitting/standing and measured the perceived threat of the activity (safe or dangerous) for the participants.

The results showed that participants with knee osteoarthritis were significantly more likely to associate activity with danger than participants in the other two groups. Overall, 69% of the participants who had knee osteoarthritis had stronger associations with physical activity and danger compared to the group who had no pain.

The authors noted that most people with knee osteoarthritis do not get the recommended amount of exercise, even though research clearly shows that exercise improves the condition. Previous studies on why these patients do not exercise enough was inconclusive, possibly because our deep, implicit feelings about a subject can be different from what we report in surveys. The implicit bias test in this study suggests that patients’ actions may be guided more by their internal beliefs than by the external beliefs that they report to their doctors. In addition to reducing the symptoms of knee osteoarthritis, regular exercise is a key pillar of heart health and overall wellbeing. Future research may focus on how to improve implicit perceptions of exercise to encourage more people to exercise regularly.  

Sources: Pain, Science Daily

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Savannah (she/her) is a scientific writer specializing in cardiology at Labroots. Her background is in medical writing with significant experience in obesity, oncology, and infectious diseases. She has conducted research in microbial biophysics, optics, and education. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Oregon.
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