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Osteoarthritis can cause knee pain.

How to Improve Arthritis Symptoms in Just 45 Minutes

24 January

Exercise can seem daunting, especially for older adults with mobility issues from arthritis. It can be hard to get as much exercise as guidelines suggest, but a new study has some encouraging news for seniors. As it turns out, all it takes is just 45 minutes of exercise each week to improve arthritis symptoms and overall health.

The study comes from researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago. Although official guidelines recommend adults over the age of 65 get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise each week, the researchers discovered that only one in ten seniors with knee osteoarthritis were able to meet this goal. The researchers set out to discover if a moderate amount of exercise could be achievable as well as beneficial for this group.

More than a thousand participants contributed to the study, all over the age of 49 and all with knee osteoarthritis symptoms such as stiffness, aching, and pain. The researchers looked at changes after two years of moderate exercise, as reported by the participants and using accelerometers to measure movement. After two years of efforts to improve their physical activity, about a third of the participants had either improved or retained their high physical function.

Not surprisingly, the study participants who exercised regularly experienced the highest physical function. These were the osteoarthritis sufferers achieving the recommended 150 minutes of moderate activity each week. However, even those in the study who exercised less saw improvement. Some participants would walk briskly or other activity for 45 minutes each week, and these older adults were 80 percent more likely to improve or at least maintain their physical function after two years than those who did not get at least 45 minutes of exercise.

The study participants not only did not need to spend more than 45 minutes exercising to see an improvement, they also did not have to spend 10 minutes or longer exercising each time, as recommended by the government guidelines. Other studies have touted the benefits of exercise for osteoarthritis, including decreasing pain and stiffness, strengthening bones to decrease the chance of injury, strengthening muscles around the knee joint to help it absorb shock, and strengthening the joint itself. Not only can exercise help improve the osteoarthritis symptoms, but it can help general health including reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, decreasing feelings of depression, and improving mood and sleep.

The problem with the recommended 150 minutes of exercise is that it may not feel attainable for those suffering from joint stiffness and pain along with limited mobility. If they are not hitting their 150 minutes, or the task seems too daunting, these osteoarthritis patients may just give up and not even try. The researchers believe recommending 45 minutes of moderate exercise may make the task seem more achievable for those with mobility issues, and although 150 minutes of exercise or more may be ideal, aiming for 45 minutes could still get this group moving and reaping the benefits of exercise for their health.

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects older adults, with an estimated almost 50 percent of adults over the age of 65 suffering from the disease. Arthritis refers to joint inflammation, but osteoarthritis specifically refers to the breakdown of cartilage within the joint, thanks to years of wear and tear. As the cartilage degrades within the joint, someone with osteoarthritis can experience swelling, pain, and problems moving their joint, reducing their mobility and along with it their level of physical activity.

Doctors most commonly recommend their osteoarthritis patients get exercise to improve their symptoms, although other treatments can include anti-inflammatories, pain medication, and joint replacement surgery. Some doctors and their patients choose to use viscosupplements, which are injections of hyaluronic acid into the affected knee or other joint. These viscosupplements are made of sodium hyaluronate, similar in viscosity to the synovial fluid found naturally in the joint. This sodium hyaluronate gel can help lubricate and cushion the knee joint, helping reduce pain and swelling and improving mobility. To learn more or to buy viscosupplements such as DUROLANE® for your medical spa or clinic, visit

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be considered as medical advice. We, do not agree, endorse, or approve opinions expressed by authors of our medical community. Articles are not reviewed for accuracy by You should always consult your doctor when seeking medical advice.

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