MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Osteoarthritis affects about 27 million Americans, mostly in their knees. Now a new study by University of Minnesota researchers shows certain types of exercise can have big benefits for osteoarthritis sufferers.

One of those sufferers is Massoud Mofid. To help with cope with the disease, he’s been taking a water workout class for 15 years.

“The pain was mainly down in the knees. I was able to walk perhaps, at first, two to three blocks, then it shrank to almost one block,” he said.

The new research, done at the university’s School of Public Health, shows that certain types of exercise may help knee osteoarthritis more than others.

“If you do strengthening exercises, if you do low impact aerobic exercise, if you do some aquatic exercise you can improve your life…and reduce your pain,” said Dr. Kurt Spindler, the director of Vanderbilt Sports Medicine Center.

Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that is the number one cause of disability in the U.S. Doctors say sticking to an exercise program is key to relieving pain and improving mobility.

“If you moved the knee and get the knee moving gently, under low loads, it is very healthy for your tissues around the knees,” Spindler said.

Longtime osteoarthritis sufferer Kit McCormick agrees that working out in the pool helps her stay active.

“I’m doing things in the water that I cannot do on land, but when I get out of the water, it’s wonderful,” she said.

Proving the right, consistent exercise program can make all the difference. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately one in two people may develop knee osteoarthritis in their lifetime.

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