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Wearing hip replacements out

Q) I am 75 and had a hip replacement in 2005. The other hip is now giving me some pain. Every day I do 30 minutes on a treadmill at 2.7 mph, which is fairly modest. What I want to know is: am I going to wear out the artificial hip prematurely by this regime, and also am I damaging the prospects for the other hip?

I did 14 marathons in my 50s so am probably paying for this now.
E Montserrat, Thorpe Willoughby, Selby, North Yorkshire

Q) No doubt readers will have noticed by tendency to champion exercise in this column. You sound to have been a very keen runner. Fourteen marathons are enough for anyone.

The evidence relating osteoarthritis to exercise can be summarised as follows. Moderate, recreational running, with mileages of less than 40–50 miles a week, is unlikely to cause premature osteoarthritis. And the benefits of this level of exercise on the bones and the heart will far outweigh any minor running-related problems.

If your running is high intensity with significant mileage (one study looked at people who ran more than 100 miles a week) then there is a higher risk of osteoarthritis of the leg joints. It is also worth pointing out that if you have an injury, such as damaged cartilage, then the risks of developing osteoarthritis are increased. This is why footballers and rugby players ultimately develop problems. So, keeping injury-free and not doing excessive mileage will be entirely in your favour.

To answer your question, there is no set limit on exercise, but obviously doing too much may wear out an artificial joint sooner. The level of exercise you report is unlikely to do this, in my opinion. And, if you can exercise without pain on the other side, I would recommend you continue as you are.

Back to Self-help, exercise and lifestyle


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