The same exercises that build muscle and increase cardiovascular strength can also overwork joints and wear down cartilage. That means the exercise regimen you follow today could contribute to osteoarthritis later in life.
Running on hard surfaces (think city streets!) or playing high-impact sports like basketball, volleyball or soccer increase risk for injury-induced arthritis. High-impact workouts like kickboxing, jumping rope or step aerobics can cause bits of bone or cartilage to break off and float within the joint space.
For healthy exercise:
- Switch to swimming, bicycling or hiking–sports without jumping or twisting motions.
- Avoid "weekend warrior" syndrome by starting slowly and increasing intensity only after muscles and joints have warmed up.
- Try low-impact activities like stationary bicycles, elliptical trainers and free weights.
- Keep muscles flexible and strong with programs that are easy on joints, such as Yoga, tai chi or Pilates.
- Pace yourself, and don't play through the pain.