Relative Efficacy of Different Exercises for Pain, Function, Performance and Quality of Life in Knee and Hip Osteoarthritis: Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis

  • Siew-Li Goh, Monica S. M. Persson, Joanne Stocks, Yunfei Hou, Nicky J. Welton, Jianhao Lin, Michelle C. Hall, Michael Doherty, Weiya Zhang
  • Sports Medicine, March 2019, Springer Science + Business Media
  • DOI: 10.1007/s40279-019-01082-0

Comparing the benefit of different exercises for osteoarthritis

Photo by Inspired Horizons Digital Marketing on Unsplash

Photo by Inspired Horizons Digital Marketing on Unsplash

What is it about?

We analysed the results from 103 trials comparing different exercises in people with knee or hip osteoarthritis. The exercises were grouped into aerobic (e.g. swimming or jogging); mind-body (e.g. tai chi or yoga); strengthening (e.g. lifting dumbbells or squats); flexibility (e.g. hamstring or gastrocnemius stretch) skill (e.g. wobble board); or mixed (using more than one) exercise types. We then compared the relative benefit for improving pain, function, performance and quality of life for knee and hip osteoarthritis.

Why is it important?

Guidelines recommend exercise as a core treatment for osteoarthritis. Our study suggests that the most effective type depends on what you want to achieve. Aerobic and mind-body exercises were the most effective for reducing pain and improving function. Whilst strengthening and flexibility exercises appear good for moderate improvement of multiple outcomes.


Dr Joanne Stocks
University of Nottingham

Mixed exercises appeared to be the least effective for all outcomes. However, mixed exercises were more beneficial than the no exercise control, therefore it remains an acceptable option for patients who don't respond well to single-component exercises.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Joanne Stocks