Failed Weight-loss Resolutions Could Lead to Walking Problems Later

HOUSTON (March 7, 2011) – Did your resolution to lose weight end several weeks ago? If so, the Harris County Hospital District wants you to consider picking it up again. While many understand the connection of being overweight with hypertension, diabetes and heart disease, others don’t realize the effect that those extra pounds can have on your knees.

The physical therapists of the Harris County Hospital District’s Rehabilitation Services Department see patients every day who suffer from knee osteoarthritis, a debilitating condition brought on by the deterioration of articular cartilage in the knee. The breakdown of cartilage causes the bones to rub against each other, causing stiffness, pain and loss of movement in the joint.

Osteoarthritis, also called osteoarthroses or degenerative joint disease, is the most common type of arthritis. More than 10,000 Americans annually suffer from this painful and life-altering condition.

With a simple 10-pound weight gain, a person increases the force on the knee by up to 30-60 pounds with every step. In fact, overweight women and men are 4-5 times more likely to develop knee osteoarthritis.

But, with a few lifestyle and exercise changes, your knees can keep you moving for years to come.

“According to the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center, an overweight or obese woman of normal height who loses 11 pounds can reduce her risk of knee osteoarthritis by about 50 percent,” says Alex Bonhomme, DPT, physical therapist, Quentin Mease Community Hospital.

If you don’t have time for a workout, Bonhomme recommends fitting it during the work day.

Some exercise options include:

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Take a brisk walk during lunch or designated work break
  • Walk to coworkers’ offices or work spaces instead of using the phone or e-mail
  • Use the restroom on the floor above or below your floor and take the stairs
  • Park as far as you can and walk to work
  • Walk to lunch somewhere outside of your work facility
  • Exercise at your desk: jumping jacks, crunches, chair squats, overhead press lifts, bicep curls and repeated sit-to-stands.

“One way to enhance your workout is to do exercises as part of circuit training,” says Ali Jeffus, DPT, physical therapist, Quentin Mease Community Hospital. “Circuit training involves performing several exercises consecutively with little to no rest periods between each exercise. It will build cardiovascular endurance, burn fat and increase strength.”

For those with a few more minutes at home, Jeffus suggests doing 10 repetitions of each exercise — jumping jacks, crunches, overhead presses, push-ups, and sit-to-stands — doing each exercise for 4-5 sets without resting between each exercise and set.

With these suggestions, you will be on the right track for reducing your risk of knee osteoarthritis.

For more information on osteoarthritis, visit the Arthritis Foundation.

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