If you've developed the wear-and-tear disease of osteoarthritis, you might think it's all downhill from here. Well, not if you walk uphill — or just walk! A new study shows that a walking regimen, along with a weight-loss diet, can reduce pain and reverse disability in people with osteoarthritis.
The results of the 18-month study — named IDEA, for Intensive Diet and Exercise — were reported by researchers from Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, at the 2011 annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology.
The study involved 454 overweight people (72% of them women), with an average age of 66 years. The participants were divided into three groups. One group was put on a diet intended to reduce weight by at least 10%. One group exercised three days a week, for 15 to 20 minutes, walking on two days and weight-lifting on one. The third group did both — they dieted and exercised.
After 18 months, the diet-and-exercise group reported an average 51% decrease in pain (more than double the diet-only and exercise-only groups), with 4 out of 10 saying their pain was no more than 0 or 1 on a scale of 1 to 10.
The combo group also had a 47% increase in "functional status" (the ability to perform everyday activities), and a 12% increase in walking speed. The diet-only and exercise-only groups also improved in those feel-better parameters, but not nearly as much.
The diet-and-exercise folks "reversed the trend of declining mobility that is seen in older adults," said the study leader.
The bottom line is that it's never too late to feel better — in fact, to feel great!
"Diet and Exercise Reduce Pain in Osteoarthritis," American College of Rheumatology (ACR) 2011 Annual Meeting: Abstract 722. Presented November 6, 2011 (printed in Medscape)
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.