Are Osteoarthritis and Obesity Connected?

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  • What Is Osteoarthritis?

    What Is Osteoarthritis?

    Osteoarthritis (OA) occurs when the smooth cartilage in the body’s joints becomes worn out or damaged. Sometimes an injury can lead to OA. Often, however, wear and tear on the joints over time results in OA.

    When OA develops, the joint becomes inflamed. The usual symptoms of OA include pain and stiffness. OA tends to develop in the knees, hips, lower back, neck, and hands.

  • Overweight and Obesity

    Overweight and Obesity

    Being overweight simply means weighing more than is considered healthy for your height. An official diagnosis of overweight or obese is based on your body mass index (BMI). BMI is calculated using your gender, height, and weight.

    A BMI score of 18.5 to 24.9 is considered normal weight. Overweight is defined as a score of 25 to 29.9. If your BMI score is 30 or higher, you’re considered obese.

  • The Vicious Circle

    The Vicious Circle

    Obesity and OA can be a vicious cycle. Carrying extra weight causes more stress on the joints. Being obese therefore tends to accelerate the onset of OA. If you have arthritis, you know how difficult it can be to exercise with joint pain.

    Physical activity is key to weight loss, so having arthritis can make it even more difficult to drop those extra pounds. Exercise is possible with arthritis, but you may need the help of a professional trainer or physical therapist.

  • Added Pressure on the Knees

    Added Pressure on the Knees

    You may be surprised by the amount of pressure that your body weight puts on your joints. For every 10 pounds of extra weight you carry, an additional 30 to 60 pounds of force is placed on the knees with each step, according to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center.

    The same source says that overweight women are four times as likely to develop knee OA as women of healthy weight are. Overweight men are five times as likely to develop knee OA.

  • Other Factors for Osteoarthritis

    Other Factors for Osteoarthritis

    Obesity is one of several factors that can contribute to OA. Age is another big factor. The older you get, the more wear and tear you put on your joints.

    Some people may inherit bone problems that make them more susceptible to arthritis. Weak muscles, particularly those around the knee, may also contribute to OA. This is because the joints suffer without having strong muscle support around them.

  • Benefits of Exercise

    Benefits of Exercise

    A mixed regimen of calorie-burning cardiovascular exercises and muscle-strengthening exercises can counter the effects of OA. More exercise and lower calorie intake can help bring about weight loss.

    Losing extra weight helps remove pressure from your joints. These activities can help lower OA risk, or at least cause a reduction in symptoms if you already have OA. Exercises that strengthen muscles around the joints will also help delay the onset of OA, and can help you better cope with the condition.

  • Jumping for Joint Health

    Jumping for Joint Health

    It might seem like jumping rope and other high-impact activities would be harmful to joints with OA. But a study published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research found the opposite. Postmenopausal women with mild OA experienced improved bone strength and greater function after doing supervised jumping exercises three days a week for a year.

    If you plan to exercise with OA, check with your doctor about precautions that you should take when you work out.

  • A Little Weight Loss Helps

    A Little Weight Loss Helps

    Losing weight can take time, but even moderate weight loss can ease the discomfort of OA. It can also lower the risk of developing OA. Weight loss also helps reduce your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers.

    Set a realistic goal of losing one to two pounds a week through increased physical activity and reduced calorie intake. Your joints and the rest of your body will thank you.

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