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You’ve probably heard that running will wreck your knees, but new research shows it won’t actually increase your risk of knee osteoarthritis and may even help protect you from developing the disease. Researchers performed a study with patients either at high risk for developing knee osteoarthritis (caused by a cartilage breakdown in the knee joint) or who already had the condition. “We found that runners were less likely to have frequent knee pain, radiographic evidence of osteoarthritis (ROA), and the combination of knee pain and ROA in the same knee,” says study author Grace Hsiao-Wei Lo, M.D. M.Sc., assistant professor of medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. Once the researchers adjusted for differences in BMI, the prevalence of ROA was similar in runners versus nonrunners. The difference in weight may also explain why runners generally have less osteoarthritis than nonrunners.