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Physical Activity and Osteoarthritis: The Benefits and Best Practices

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Physical Activity and Osteoarthritis: The Benefits and Best Practices

Physical activity and osteoarthritis – Romanews.it

Some may fear that physical activity and osteoarthritis could damage their joints and cause more pain. It’s really like this?

In fact, research shows that people can and should exercise when they have osteoarthritis. In fact, exercise is considered the non-pharmacological treatment most effective for reducing pain and improving movement in patients with osteoarthritis.

Certain types of exercise play a role in maintaining and improving range of motion and function. Walking and aquatic exercises are particularly suitable for most people with osteoarthritis.

Physical activity and osteoarthritis: what are the medical indications?

Physical activity is defined as the movement of the body resulting from muscle contraction and which induces an expenditure of energy. It can be tailored to a person’s state of health and have the goal of maintaining or improving health.

The link between sedentary lifestyle and symptom severity in osteoarthritis is well established, making Adaptive Physical Activity (APA) a targeted first-line treatment in osteoarthritis to combat the effects of a sedentary lifestyle, regardless of disease phenotype or stage.

The latest recommendations from EULAR, ACR, and OARSI consider APA, in the form of structured exercise programs for muscle strengthening, joint mobility, proprioception, and aerobic exercises as the basic treatment for people with osteoarthritis.

The benefits of APA in the reduction of pain and short-, medium-, and long-term activity limitations in osteoarthritis, particularly of the lower extremities, have been demonstrated in high-level clinical studies and meta-analyses, with the effect comparable to those observed with drug therapy treatments.

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In clinical practice, the prescribing of APA in people with osteoarthritis should be further encouraged. Particular attention should also be paid to long-term patient adherence.

All the national and international recommendations make APA the first-line treatment for osteoarthritis, with a high level of evidence and consensus among experts. They are based on numerous randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses demonstrating the safety and efficacy of exercise on pain, activity limitations, and quality of life.


To date, APA, especially structured programs that combine specific exercises aimed at muscle strengthening, improvement of joint mobility and proprioception, and non-specific exercises (aerobic resistance exercises), is the first-line treatment in osteoarthritis.

Its risk/benefit ratio is higher than that of drug therapy. APA is a targeted and precise treatment aimed at reducing both associated risk factors (e.g. metabolic syndrome, overweight, sarcopenia, and chronic inflammation).

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