Bike Riding May Help Reduce Knee Pain And Arthritis

Bike Riding May Help Reduce Knee Pain And Arthritis

Biking is not just a form of exercise or an alternative way to commute to work. Additionally, cyclists are not people that aim to irritate drivers on the roads. In fact, people who bike get great, low-impact cardiovascular exercise that may even prevent knee pain and arthritis in the knees, according to a new study. 

The study results indicated that people who participated in cycling or baking at any point in their lives were 17% less likely to experience knee pain by middle age. They were 21% less likely to develop arthritic pain in the knee joints as well. Osteoarthritis has a lengthy history, making it difficult to track how different exercises affect people, their joints, and the severity of the condition throughout their lives. 

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and can develop in one or more joints as you age, especially the knees. If you have osteoarthritis in the knees, you can experience general pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced mobility. Some people do not experience these symptoms, while others have swelling and difficulty engaging in everyday activities like cleaning, walking, bending down, or gardening. 

Low-Impact Exercise For Knee Osteoarthritis

Unfortunately, there is no cure for arthritis of the knee joints. Doctors typically advise people to avoid high-impact activities, such as running or tennis, so that they don’t worsen symptoms. Great low-impact exercises for osteoarthritis patients often include swimming, walking, or cycling. Until this recent study, the best low-impact exercise to promote healthier knee joints has been unclear. 

The new study focused on the potential benefits of cycling. Researchers asked more than 2,500 people if they biked or cycled over four periods during their lives. Those periods were as follows:

  • 12 to 18 years of age
  • 19 to 34 years of age
  • 35 to 49 years of age
  • 50 and older

Researchers took X-rays of the study participants to identify arthritis of the knee, or radiographic osteoarthritis (ROA). Participants then described any knee pain they experienced and allowed scientists to identify people who had symptomatic radiographic osteoarthritis (SOA). That was determined by X-rays that revealed arthritis in the knee joints and symptoms such as swelling or pain. People who biked at any point in their lives reported less knee pain, ROA, and SOA than those who never biked. Those who biked across different age periods reported fewer instances of all three knee issues. 

Cycling For Knee Osteoarthritis

Part of the reason that researchers attribute cycling to less knee pain is because of increased physical activity levels and muscular function. Osteoarthritis is commonly associated with loss of muscle mass, lower activity levels, and higher body fat percentage. All of those things, in addition to the knee pain, make it more difficult to engage in regular exercise, or daily activities like sitting, standing, or stair climbing. 

Cycling and other forms of low-impact exercise may reduce the risk of osteoarthritis-related muscle loss and muscular function. That may help people manage symptoms or osteoarthritis-related pain over time. 

Although this research is great, the study had one limitation. Researchers relied on participants to accurately recall and report on past exercise habits for several decades. People who rode a bike throughout their lives potentially had other healthy habits that reduced the risk of knee pain or arthritis in the knee joint. Additionally, the goal of the study was not to determine the perfect frequency, intensity, or duration of cycling sessions to manage knee pain or osteoarthritis. Study participants did confess to cycling anywhere from two to five times per week, 20 to 60 minutes per session.


Even if you already have knee pain or knee pain because of osteoarthritis, it’s not too late to begin rehab. Physical activity is possible if you take it slow. By engaging in low-impact exercises and mobility movements, you can strengthen the muscles around the knee joint. In doing so, you can offload stress on the joint and reduce pain. Unfortunately, the exercise will not take away the existing arthritis.

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