Running and The Risk of Joint Disease…. Will My Jogging Cause Arthritis?

November 9, 2009

Not necessarily….

A 14 year prospective longitudinal study published in Arthritis Research and Therapy  involving  961 men and women, aged 50 and over, found results that will be good news to us runners all over the world.  I am not really a “runner” like my good friend Yong Larrazabal of the Cebu Doc Group of Hospitals but I do jog daily around 4k as my form of physical activity.

The study below clearly showed that “exercise was associated with a substantial and significant reduction in pain even after adjusting for gender, baseline BMI, and attrition”.  Read on………

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We studied the long term impact of running and other aerobic exercise on musculoskeletal pain in a cohort of healthy aging male and female seniors who had been followed for 14 years.

We conducted a prospective, longitudinal study in 866 Runners’ Association members (n = 492) and community controls (n = 374). Subjects were also categorized as Ever-Runners (n = 565) and Never-Runners (n = 301) to include runners who had stopped running.

Pain was the primary outcome measure and was assessed in annual surveys on a double-anchored visual analogue scale (0 to 100; 0 = no pain). Baseline differences between Runners’ Association members and community controls and between Ever-Runners versus Never-Runners were compared using chi-square and t-tests. Statistical adjustments for age, body mass index (BMI), gender, health behaviors, history of arthritis and comorbid conditions were performed using generalized estimating equations.

Runner’s Association members were younger (62 versus 65 years, p < 0.05), had a lower BMI (22.9 versus 24.2, p < 0.05), and less arthritis (35% versus 41%, p > 0.05) than community controls. Runners’ Association members averaged far more exercise minutes per week (314 versus 123, p < 0.05) and miles run per week (26 versus 2, p < 0.05) and tended to report more fractures (53% versus 47%, p > 0.05) than controls. Ever-Runners were younger (62 versus 66 years, p < 0.05), had lower BMI (23.0 versus 24.3, p < 0.05), and less arthritis (35% versus 43%, p < 0.05) than Never-Runners. Ever-Runners averaged more exercise minutes per week (291 versus 120, p < 0.05) and miles run per week (23 versus 1, p < 0.05) and reported a few more fractures (52% versus 48%, p > 0.05) than Never-Runners.

  • Exercise was associated with significantly lower pain scores over time in the Runners’ Association group after adjusting for gender, baseline BMI, and study attrition (p < 0.01). Similar differences were observed for Ever-Runners versus Never-Runners.
  • Consistent exercise patterns over the long term in physically active seniors are associated with about 25% less musculoskeletal pain than reported by more sedentary controls, either by calendar year or by cumulative area-under-the-curve pain over average ages of 62 to 76 years.

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 The above study only further confirms what other studies have shown in regards to the relationship between greater physical activity and the associated less pain and disability associated with a higher health related quality of life.  These studies refute the earlier claims and excuses of non exercisers that long term… runners will have debilitating arthritis or joint diseases!   For me…they are mere excuses for those who lead a sedentary lifestyle.

An analogy to this finding would be our recommendations for people with heart attack.  A stressful activity may trigger the event BUT the long term risk is decreased by more activity.  As more physical activties with lifestyle change have been shown to be helpful long term in reducing risk for chronic debilitating diseases.

Take Home message of this all:  

  1. It is the ” too little activity over time” that may in fact be the primary cause of a large percentage of musculoskeletal injuries and NOT the other way around!   
  2. With the worldwide epidemic of obesity, diabetes and Hypertension, it is but prudent to suggest that too much exercise is not the major public health problem… rather it is the Inactivty that is a Problem and the associated diseases that come with it!

Remember….All the studies have proven so far that on the contrary… the more once moves the joints, the stronger they become to withstand injuries long term suggesting that indeed….

Lifetime physical activity Is Protective… to your joints, muscles and the whole physical being!

So guys…let’s all enjoy running!!!

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6 Responses to “Running and The Risk of Joint Disease…. Will My Jogging Cause Arthritis?”


  1. […] a smoother running surface and thus can avoid the risk of twisting an ankle or pressurizing your joints. Moreover, with a treadmill you can also determine the pace and incline of your running and thus […]

  2. Barbara O' Brien Says:

    The Health Rules,

    My name is Barbara O’ Brien and my blogging at The Mahablog, Crooks and Liars, AlterNet, and elsewhere on the progressive political and health blogophere has earned me the notoriety of being a panelist at the Yearly Kos Convention and a featured guest blogger at the Take Back America Conference in Washington, DC.

    I’m contacting you because I found your site in a health and health reform blog search and want to tell you about my newest blogging platform —the public concern of politics, and health care and its reform. Our shared concerns include health reform, tort reform, public health, safe workplaces, and asbestos contamination.

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    Barbara O’ Brien
    barbaraobrien@maacenter.org

  3. maxim Says:

    Thanks for this piece of info. In fact I would be running Doc for the Timex marathon at Global City on Monday. It seems running is gaining more popularity across ages. People are starting to realize the fun and health benefits of this economical physical activity.

  4. maxim Says:

    Running is exhilirating! The Timex marathon was just great last Sunday. More marathons to run before the end of this year.

  5. Un Plese Says:

    If you want to Run Your Marathons Faster and Run Faster Marathon times I suggest you check out this video on training for a marathon in 100 days. It’s a great way to train.


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