In the exercise group, many subjects reported gains in physical activity and functional performance tests compared with subjects in the control group. Improvements in tests of aerobic capacity and stamina affirmed the self-reported changes. What's more, MRI measures of the GAG content showed a strong correlation with the increased physical training of the subjects who had regularly participated in moderate, supervised exercise.
"This study shows compositional changes in adult joint cartilage as a result of increased exercise, which confirms the observations made in prior animal studies but has not been previously shown in humans," notes Dr. Dahlberg. "The changes imply that human cartilage responds to physiologic loading in a way similar to that exhibited by muscle and bone, and that previously established positive symptomatic effects of exercise in patients with OA may occur in parallel or even be caused by improved cartilage properties."
As Drs. Dahlberg and Roos acknowledge, the study does have limitations--its small sample size and narrow focus on meniscectomized knee joints--and makes no claims for predicting the long-term effects of exercise on cartilage. The conclusi
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