Today’s Headlines: Knee Pain, Healthy Obesity and Weight Lifting

Acetaminophen doesn’t do much for knee pain. Many people have probably taken acetaminophen for a variety of aches, pains, and fevers. While it definitely helps for some complaints, arthritis pain in your knees isn’t one of them. The research team “looked at thousands of studies on various treatments for knee pain, from acetaminophen–the active ingredient in Tylenol–to ibuprofen to steroid injections and found 137 studies covering 33,000 people.” They found that injections, regardless of what they contained, trumped pills. Even the placebo injection of saline worked better than any pill for pain. Everything helped the pain somewhat except for acetaminophen. While injections were effective, the authors also point out they’re often very expensive. “Instead, the team recommends taking things slowly and going with the cheapest and least invasive treatment first. That may mean weight loss and ice. Exercise can help, too, if it’s the right kind that doesn’t strain the knee. Swimming and cycling fit that bill. Physical therapy may also help.” (NBC)

In general, you can’t really be fit and be obese. Debate has swirled for years about whether it’s possible to be fit while also being overweight. Proponents point to the overweight that work out regularly and even run marathons. But detractors call up the millions worldwide whose health has suffered as a direct result of their extra pounds. New research is indicating the latter camp may be mostly right. “In a small but meticulously chosen group of healthy obese people, even a controlled run-up in weight did not knock metabolic function off-course. But in another study, researchers who followed British functionaries for two decades found that just over half of those who were obese but metabolically healthy at the outset had become metabolically unhealthy by the end. (On a more positive note, 38% remained obese but healthy.) The results suggest that, for most who are obese, metabolic health is but a way-station on the road to type 2 diabetes and its elevated risk of heart attack and stroke. According to the authors, the natural course of healthy obesity is progression to metabolic deterioration.” That doesn’t mean you can’t be fat and healthy, but it does mean that the odds are stacked against you. (LA Times)

To shrink your waistline, add weights. When most people think about losing weight, they imagine endless hours on the treadmill, stationary bike or elliptical machine. But new research has found that when it comes to losing the most dangerous pounds, weight lifting may be more helpful. “The study looked at 10,500 healthy American men age 40 and older. The researchers examined participants’ weight, physical activity and waist circumference to see how changes in the men’s activity levels over 12 years affected their waistlines. Men’s waist sizes tend to increase as they age, and the men in the study showed a 1.2-inch increase in their waists, on average. But the men who engaged in weight training for 20 minutes a day had a smaller increase than men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic exercises, according to the study.” While the study took place only in men, the authors strongly suspect that results will be the same in women. They also note that you shouldn’t ditch your cardio routine. “Engaging in resistance training or, ideally, combining it with aerobic exercise could help older adults lessen abdominal fat while increasing or preserving muscle mass.” (Washington Post)