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Weight loss through exercise alone is not enough to protect the knees

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Losing weight through exercise alone does not protect the knees from cartilage degeneration, researchers have found.

In a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), researchers investigated the association between different regimens of weight loss and the progression of knee cartilage degeneration in 760 overweight and obese patients.

We already know that being overweight increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis, and makes it more likely that arthritis will get worse over time.

Previous research has also shown that overweight and obese people who lose weight can slow down the progression of cartilage degeneration in the knee, but it was unclear if the method used to lose weight made a difference.

The new study revealed that this protective effect was only found in subjects losing weight through diet alone, or diet and exercise. Individuals who lost the same amount of weight through exercise alone did not slow the progression of cartilage degeneration.

In fact, weight loss through exercise alone showed no significant difference in cartilage degeneration in comparison to the control group of patients who lost no weight.

“Once cartilage is lost in osteoarthritis, the disease cannot be reversed,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Alexandra Gersing, from the Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at the University of California, San Francisco.

“These results add to the hypothesis that solely exercise as a regimen in order to lose weight in overweight and obese adults may not be as beneficial to the knee joint as weight loss regimens involving diet.”