Obesity is one of the leading risk factors for osteoarthritis knee pain; it stands to reason that weight loss will improve the condition.

If you have knee pain, particularly osteoarthritis, and are overweight, then weight loss will probably result in a notable reduction in pain—even though osteoarthritis of the knee can affect medium-built or thin individuals.

Just because thinner people suffer from osteoarthritis of the knee doesn’t mean that obesity isn’t a major risk factor.

The knee is not the most stable joint in the body. Most of one’s body weight is above this joint.

Losing weight will have its virtues for those with painful knees. Don’t let deluded body-positive people on Instagram trick you into thinking that excess body fat cannot cause issues with quality of life.

  • Thin people with knee problems are never told to gain weight for symptom relief.
  • Plus size patients are routinely told to drop pounds for symptom relief.

Weight Loss Reduces Knee Pain: Study

Research at the Penn State College of Medicine shows that obese patients who had early-onset osteoarthritis of their knees experienced major improvement in symptoms after an average weight loss of 57 pounds.

Exercising with Knee Pain to Lose Weight

When I was a personal trainer I had overweight clients with knee pain. Losing weight is a must for these men and women.

Aerobic activity can assist with weight loss, but painful arthritic knees will interfere with how rigorous the exercise is.

However, upper body strength training can be done very intensely by overweight people with arthritic knees.

  • Lying down bench press and dumbbell press
  • Seated chest press with a machine
  • Seated overhead dumbbell press or shoulder press with a machine
  • Seated cable row
  • Seated lat pull-down

Overhead Dumbbell Press


Seated Chest Press


Lying Triceps Extension

As for aerobics, some patients will get a clearance from their doctor for pedaling on a stationary bike or elliptical trainer, plus walking inclines on a treadmill, as long as the arthritis doesn’t cause any pain.

A combination of these aerobics plus weight workouts will facilitate fat loss, which will lead to an improvement in the symptoms of knee arthritis.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
Top image credit: Sandra Cohen-Rose