Graduate - Sydney College of Osteopathy - Sydney College of Chiropractic
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Article by Peter Pedersen
Women who start engaging in physical activity after menopause are less likely to have joint pain than women who start exercising at a younger age, according to an Australian-led study.
The study used Australian longitudinal survey data from 5105 women born between 1946 and 1951 on joint pain and stiffness in 1998, 2001 and 2004.
They found levels of physical activity for women aged in their fifties were associated with a reduced risk of developing joint pain or stiffness compared with women aged in their late forties or early fifties.
“The interesting point is that the timing of exposure to physical activity seems to matter in this particular sample, where being physically active in the recent years than earlier years throughout mid-age leads to greater benefits,” says lead author Dr Geeske Peeters from the University of Queensland.
They say this could be due to the protective effects of oestrogen post-menopause on joint pain symptoms.
“It may be that between the ages of 47 to 52 years most women were still experiencing the protective effect of oestrogen on OA, albeit at lower levels, and this may have lessened the effect of physical activity on incident joint pain/stiffness,” they write.
Other possible explanations include the effect of physical activity mediating joint pain and stiffness over time and the importance of physical activity during the non-symptomatic period of osteoarthritis.
Dr Peeters describes the finding as “surprising” but says she and her colleagues need more research to confirm the findings.
“We don’t know if these findings are specific for this age range only.”
“It would be interesting to see if we can repeat the findings in the middle-aged women and younger women,” she says.
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