Harvard Women's Health Watch

Diet-plus-exercise combo helps relieve knee osteoarthritis

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If you're overweight or obese, a combination of diet and exercise can help you lose more weight and reduce your knee pain better than either intervention alone. Being overweight can strain the knee joints, contributing to or worsening knee osteoarthritis. Researchers at Wake Forest University tested the effects of diet, exercise, or a combination of both on knee pain and function. They randomly assigned 454 overweight and obese adults (ages 55 and older) with knee osteoarthritis to one of three interventions—diet and exercise, diet only, or exercise only—and followed them for 18 months. People in the study who both dieted and exercised lost the most weight—11.4% of their body weight, compared with 9.5% for the diet group and 2% for the exercise group. They also had less knee pain, better function, and faster walking speed, according to the study, which was published in the Sept. 25, 2013, issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association.

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