Australian researchers have found that cardiovascular exercise may help to maintain the condition of the knee joint, reducing the likelihood of osteoarthritis (OA) and thereby also slimming a person's chances of needing knee surgery.
A study published in Arthritis Care & Research looked at the influence of potential risk factors on patients' joints using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
They found that cardiovascular exercise was linked with an increase in the volume of defect-free cartilage in the knee, suggesting that it is beneficial for weight-bearing joints.
In addition, moderate exercise was found to reduce the incidence of bone marrow lesions, which have been linked with the progression of osteoarthritis.
Lead author Dr Flavia Cicuttini commented: "This is the first study to demonstrate a potentially beneficial effect of walking on the reduction in the risk of bone marrow lesions in the knee."
Dr Cicuttini added that at least 20 minutes of weekly activity - sufficient to induce shortness of breath and sweating - may be adequate, suggesting that this level of activity may help to prevent the need for knee replacement surgery in later life.