Like others, I used to frown upon those pounding the roads. I used to claim that running would damage knees. But does it?
Regular running or jogging offers many health benefits. It can:
- help to build strong bones
- strengthen muscles
- improve cardiovascular fitness
- burn plenty of kilojoules
- help maintain a healthy weight
Jogging Doesn’t Damage Knees
Yes, it’s true: Jogging, long thought to hurt knees with all that pounding and rattling around, may actually be beneficial for the complex and critical joint. There are caveats, though, especially for people who have suffered significant knee injury or are overweight. But for the most part, researchers say, jogging for your health seems like a good idea.
David Felson, a researcher and epidemiologist at Boston University School of Medicine, says past concern about jogging and knees centered on the continuous impact of the foot to the ground and suggestion that it caused degeneration of the knee and the onset of osteoarthritis. But when researchers actually studied the impact of running on knees, he says, that’s not what they found.
“We know from many long-term studies that running doesn’t appear to cause much damage to the knees,” he says. “When we look at people with knee arthritis, we don’t find much of a previous history of running, and when we look at runners and follow them over time, we don’t find that their risk of developing osteoarthritis is any more than expected.” Both types of studies agree, says Felson, that recreational running doesn’t increase the risk of arthritis.
In one study, Swedish researchers found that exercise, including jogging, may even be beneficial. Felson describes how researchers took one group of people at risk of osteoarthritis and had them engage in exercise, including jogging. The other group didn’t exercise. After imaging the joints of the participants in both study groups, they found that the biochemistry of cartilage actually appeared to improve in those participants who were running. Felson says that suggests that “running is actually healthy for the joint.”