Osteoarthritis (OA) is the leading cause of disability in the older adult population affecting between 7-25% of those 55 years and older. It’s also projected to become the fourth most common medical condition in women. While running and high impact activities have often been associated with increased risk of knee trauma and injuries, they do have benefits that may reduce your risk.
Running reduces body weight (high body weight increases your risk of developing OA), and it may promote cartilage thickening. Researchers investigated the role of running and walking, to see if one over the other decreased the risk of developing OA in the hip and the need for a hip replacement.
Oddly, running was found to significantly reduce OA and hip replacement. The thinking was that the reduction of body weight helped take stress off the joint. In addition to promoting weight loss directly, running also reduced the “middle-age weight gain” to only half as much as low-mileage runners or walkers.
So, maybe running is not as bad on the joints as originally thought. For those who do have issues, make sure your shoes are not worn out and consider running on a soft surface. If running is not in the cards for you, walking is still a good option and better than doing nothing at all.
Resource: Exercise Etc.