How riding a bike can help reduce arthritis and knee pain

Imagine a world where your knees feel good no matter your age. It turns out the key might be as simple as hopping on a bicycle.

Recent research cycling throughout your life can significantly reduce knee pain and even the chance of developing osteoarthritis.

A study published by the Osteoarthritis Initiative looked at more than 2,600 participants with an average age of 64, evaluating their cycling habits at different life stages. It found those who cycled at any point had a lower risk of experiencing frequent knee pain and symptomatic osteoarthritis. The more periods in life they rode a bike, the greater the benefits, suggesting that starting in your teens and continuing into later years stacks up protective benefits for your knees.

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative disease where the tissues in the joint break down over time, leading to symptoms such as stiffness, swelling, reduced mobility and a feeling of instability, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. It is the most common type of arthritis, particularly among older adults.

The good news is that activities like bicycling can strengthen the areas around the knee while minimizing impact on the cartilage.

“If you can do activities to strengthen the area while decreasing the impact on the cartilage, you should experience less symptomatic arthritis pain and slower development of arthritis,” Dr. Michael Yang, a sports medicine physician, told HuffPost.

Moreover, bicycling is accessible to almost everyone, and you don’t need to be a professional to reap the rewards. Finding a bike that fits you and starting with short rides before gradually increasing your distance can help ensure a comfortable and injury-free experience, according to REI.

So, whether you’re looking to explore the outdoors or just enjoy a leisurely ride, biking offers plenty of benefits all while being easy on the knees.