Harvard Men's Health Watch

Arthritic knees: Exercise can help, but don't overdo it

Appropriate exercise reduces pain and stiffness and improves the ability to function.

Do you have knee osteoarthritis and want to be more active with less pain? It turns out that the best medicine for wear-and-tear knee arthritis is exercise—but you have to stick with it to get the benefit, even if it hurts a little. The key to success is matching the right type of exercise to your knee condition. This allows you to gradually strengthen and stabilize the joint.

"The most important thing is to do low-level, repetitive exercise without stressing the joints too much," says Dr. Donald T. Reilly, an orthopedic surgeon at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "Those kinds of exercises diminish the forces that are put across the joint."

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