Osteoarthritis patients benefit from exercise that strengthens bones

Postmenopausal women who are
at risk of osteoporosis and also osteoarthritis, can safely carry out
progressive high-impact training to maintain bone health and physical function.
This was the result of a study conducted in the Department of Sport and Health
Sciences at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. (
Multanen J et al Effects of
high-impact training on bone and articular cartilage: 12-month randomized
controlled quantitative MRI study. J Bone Miner Res. 2014; 29:192
). The study analyzed the effect of
exercise on the femoral neck bone mineral mass using DXA; the effect on the
biochemical composition of knee cartilage was measured by dGEMRIC – the MRI
method specifically designed to measure the proteoglycan content of cartilage. 

The effects of high-impact exercise on bones, cartilages, the symptoms of
osteoarthritis and the physical performance of postmenopausal women with mild
knee osteoarthritis were examined. Eighty women from the age group of 50 to 65
years and having knee pain on most days of the month were enrolled into the
study and randomly assigned to either a training group or a control group. The
most efficient exercise to improve bone strength includes high-impact loading
(jumping exercises), as well as rapid change of directions. Previously, this
type of exercise has been thought to be harmful for the integrity of articular
cartilage, although it has never been scientifically proven. 


This study showed that
training increased femoral neck bone mineral mass and improved physical
function such as cardiorespiratory fitness, muscle strength and dynamic
balance. The most important finding was that high-impact jumping exercise did not have negative effects on the biochemical
composition of cartilage as investigated by MRI in persons with mild knee
osteoarthritis. In addition, the 12-month training was very well tolerated – it
did not induce knee pain or stiffness, and the general training compliance was
high. For postmenopausal women, the clinical significance of this study is
that, despite of mild knee osteoarthritis, progressive high-impact loading
exercises are allowed and even recommended to maintain and improve their bone
health and functional ability.