For all of you running a Turkey Trot this Thursday morning, you’re doing more than revving your metabolism for the behemoth that is Thanksgiving dinner. You’re doing a service to your knees, according to researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas. And it’s a good one!
Regular running at any age may decrease your odds of developing osteoarthritis in your knees.
Researchers analyzed data from nearly 3,000 participants in a long-term study. After eight years, participants reported on their main form of activity during four stages of life: 12-18 years old, 19-34, 35-49, and 50 and older. If running was one of their three main activities during one of these stages of life, they were classified as a runner (at that specific time).
Using the above information, knee x-rays (taken twice with a two-year span in between) and participants’ reports of symptomatic pain, the researchers classified 22.8% of the runners as having osteoarthritis, as opposed to 29.8% of non-running participants.
Not only does this disprove the belief that running hastens knee damage, it also suggests that running can be protective. Better yet, it doesn’t matter what age you are when you begin running; those who habitually run at any stage won’t experience added risk of developing the painful disease. In fact, the average age of participants was 64.7.
You heard the scientists. Put down those turkey legs and get working on your own.