There’s no question that the cartilage in our joints wear deteriorates with age. But if you’re overweight, your chances of developing arthritis or joint problems–especially in the hips and knees–goes way, way up. Obese people are twice as likely as non-obese people to develop arthritis, according to Dr. Richard Iorio, an orthopedic surgeon and a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Between 2000 and 2010, doctors performed more than twice as many knee replacements and 85% more hip replacements as in the previous decade.In addition, obese people have a higher risk of having complications after these surgeries than normal-weight folks.
Don’t Jump into Exercies
If you’re overweight, you definitely need to make some major changes–not just for your joints, but for a host of other reasons we’ve talked about on this site. But while exercise can help strengthen and support your joints, it’s very important to ease into an exercise program because high-impact exercises can damage joints even more. And once the process of joint deterioration has started, there’s no going back.
“Lots and lots of people, in their attempt to get the weight off, they start exercising,” said Dr. Raymond Tesner, an orthopedic surgeon interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch. “If you’re not careful, that’s a very good way to aggravate that arthritis in the knee that’s been dormant.”
Tesner, who is also a member of the OhioHealth Sports Medicine Institute, recommends lower-impact exercises such as swimming and biking, but puts a premium on proper diet.