Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for not only preventing diabetes and high blood pressure, but also for maintaining healthy knees.
Harvard Medical School reports that being overweight increases a person’s risk for developing osteoarthritis. This is due to the fact that walking on level ground puts a force on the knees that is around 1 ½ times the weight of the person. This force is increased to two or three times the body weight when one is going up or down stairs. Bending down to pick up an item increases the pressure to four or five times the body weight. This means that a 200 pound person puts 300 pounds of pressure on their knees when they are walking on level ground, 600 pounds when they are climbing stairs and 1000 pounds when they bend down.
It therefore goes without saying that loosing excess body weight can reduce the pressure that the knees are subjected to in normal daily activities. Harvard Medical School confirms this by reporting that the risk of developing osteoarthritis was reduced by 50% in obese women who lost just 11 pounds.
This fact is further underscored by a study which was published in the Arthritis and Rheumatism journal that showed that overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis who lost one pound of body weight had a four pound reduction of the pressure placed on their knee joints.
Researchers from Wake Forest University found that this four pound pressure reduction was for each step taken walking. This finding was a great milestone for the healthy body weight for healthy knees proponents since it translated to a reduction of 4,800 pounds of pressure on the knees for each mile walked.
Another study which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that obese and overweight people with osteoarthritis were able to reduce the pain in their knees by loosing 10% of their body weight.
These overweight adults, who were all above 55 years, also reported improved joint mobility, knee joint function, walking speed and quality of life by the end of this 18 month study.
Arthritis Foundation vice president of public policy and advocacy Dr Patience White states that the findings of this study are encouraging because most overweight people can reduce their knee pain by simply loosing 10% of their body weight. This weight loss goal is quite attainable since it translates to a 300 pound man or woman losing just 30 pounds.
Persons who want to maintain healthy knees and prevent conditions like osteoarthritis should therefore ensure that they maintain a healthy body weight. Those who have had knee replacement surgery should also avoid becoming overweight since exerting excessive pressures on the artificial knee increases its risk of deteriorating. In addition, the excess weight also puts the other knee at risk for developing osteoarthritis.
Written by: Marian Kim, FizzNiche Staff Writer