A study performed on runners suggests that, rather than causing inflammation and soreness, running may actually help reduce the amount of inflammation in the joints.

In addition, the study, published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, notes that running may also slow down the process that leads to osteoarthritis.

“It flies in the face of intuition,” says study coauthor Matt Seeley, associate professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University, in a media release. “This idea that long-distance running is bad for your knees might be a myth.”

In the study, Seeley and colleagues from BYU, as well as Dr Eric Robinson from Intermountain Healthcare, measured inflammation markers in the knee joint fluid of several healthy men and women aged 18-35, both before and after running.

The researchers found that the specific markers they were looking for in the extracted synovial fluid—two cytokines named GM-CSF and IL-15—decreased in concentration in the subjects after 30 minutes of running. When the same fluids were extracted before and after a non-running condition, the inflammation markers stayed at similar levels, the release explains.

“What we now know is that for young, healthy individuals, exercise creates an anti-inflammatory environment that may be beneficial in terms of long-term joint health,” states study lead author Robert Hyldahl, BYU assistant professor of exercise science, in the release.

According to Hyldahl, the study’s results suggest that running is chondroprotective, meaning it may help delay the onset of joint degenerative diseases such as osteoarthritis.

“This study does not indicate that distance runners are any more likely to get osteoarthritis than any other person,” Seeley explains. “Instead, this study suggests exercise can be a type of medicine.”

[Source(s): Brigham Young University, Science Daily]