It is without question that there is an obesity epidemic in the United States. With childhood obesity being more prevalent, a previously–considered adult disease, Type 2 diabetes, is now being seen more and more frequently in children. Likewise, osteoarthritis has always been considered a disease that arises in older adults. Again, due to the prevalence of obesity, people are developing osteoarthritis as young as in their 30s and 40s. At such a young age, not only is quality of life impacted, but also the increased likelihood of needing joint replacement surgery at an earlier age.
Because a one pound gain in weight causes 4 pounds of pressure on knee joints, it is not difficult to see how, over time, joints can be negatively impacted from obesity. Do the math: Gaining just 10 pounds results in 40 pounds of additional pressure coming down on the knees. If we look at the glass half full vs half empty, for every pound lost the knees receive 4 pounds of relief.
Researchers have concluded that a 15 pound weight loss can reduce knee pain by 50%. It was also found that, for the overweight person who has not yet developed osteoarthritis, losing just 11 pounds lowers the risk of developing knee osteoarthritis by half.
Those who are overweight who have osteoarthritis become less active due to their weight but also due to pain. The more sedentary one becomes, the more likely additional weight is gained. The added pressure on joints caused by the further gain in weight intensifies pain, resulting in the sedentary lifestyle to continue. Without physical activity and weight management, joint health will undoubtedly deteriorate further.
Research has also concluded that low-impact walking or swimming can reduce arthritis pain. Done on a regular basis, the activity can improve quality of life, ability to complete daily activities, mood, and sleep. Consistency with activity may help get weight going in the right direction.
Do not write off exercise because of osteoarthritis. Do not use osteoarthritis as the reason you are sedentary. Get up. Get going. Start slow. Check out classes that are offered by Medicare, often free of charge.