HealthDay News — Running might actually reduce inflammation in knee joints, according to research published recently in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.

Matt Seeley, PhD, an associate professor of exercise sciences at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, and colleagues reached their unexpected conclusion after analyzing the knee joint fluid of several healthy men and women between the ages of 18 and 35. The researchers looked for signs of inflammation in chemical markers before and after a 30-minute run and found little difference.

“It flies in the face of intuition,” Seeley said in a university news release. “This idea that long-distance running is bad for your knees might be a myth.” The researchers said the study suggests running could actually delay development of degenerative joint diseases like osteoarthritis.

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“Running appears to decrease knee intra-articular pro-inflammatory cytokine concentration and facilitates the movement of cartilage oligomeric matrix protein from the joint space to the serum,” the authors wrote.

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Hyldahl RD, Evans A, Kwon S. et al. Running decreases knee intra-articular cytokine and cartilage oligomeric matrix concentrations: a pilot study. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2016;116:2305-2314.