Elite male athletes who participate in high-contact sports such as football and rugby have a higher risk of developing knee and hip osteoarthritis than men who exercise little or not at all.
There was a doubled risk in football and handball players and a tripled risk in ice hockey players, according to a Swedish study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
The study included more than 700 retired Swedish athletes aged 50 to 93 who had played professional and Olympic level sports and nearly 1400 men of the same age who exercised little or not at all.
The group of retired athletes included men involved in high-contact sports such as soccer and ice hockey, and those who participated in non-contact sports like running, swimming and cycling.
The risk of having hip or knee arthritis was 85 percent higher in elite athletes and for those who had previously had joint surgery the risk more than doubled. This compared to just 19% for the little to no exercise group.