Knee osteoarthritis doesn't just affect our physical wellbeing, it can have a profound impact on mental health. Approximately 20% of those that suffer with knee osteoarthritis experience symptoms of depression and/or anxiety. The greater the persistence of depression, the greater the sensitivity to pain, so it is crucial psychological wellbeing is addressed with knee osteoarthritis.
The benefits of exercise and psychological wellbeing is well documented, but it is unknown whether one type of exercise can be recommended over another for the mental health of those suffering with knee osteoarthritis. Research looked into the effects of various types of exercise intervention for improvements in mental health of those with knee osteoarthritis, including strength, aerobic, yoga and tai chi.
Strengthening exercises was found to be most beneficial for overall mental health compared to aerobic exercise, mixed exercise, mind-body exercise, stretching and control interventions. Strength exercise or mixed exercise can be recommended over stretching exercise for depressive symptoms. No recommendations were found for one type of exercise programme over another for anxiety.
Comparative effectiveness of exercise programs for psychological wellbeing in knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism. 51(5): 1023-1032.