University of Oulu

Junno, JA., Keisu, A., Niemelä, M. et al. Accelerometer-measured physical activity is associated with knee breadth in middle-aged Finns – a population-based study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 23, 517 (2022).

Accelerometer-measured physical activity is associated with knee breadth in middle-aged Finns : a population-based study

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Author: Junno, Juho-Antti1,2,3,4; Keisu, Asla1,2; Niemelä, Maisa1,5;
Organizations: 1Medical Research Center, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Cancer and Translational Medicine Research Unit, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4Archaeology, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
5Research Unit of Medical Imaging, Physics and Technology, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Center for Life Course Health Research, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
7Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Oulu Deaconess Institute Foundation sr., Oulu, Finland
8Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
9Forensic Medicine Unit, Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-01-17


Background: Articular surface size is traditionally considered to be a relatively stable trait throughout adulthood. Increased joint size reduces bone and cartilage tissue strains. Although physical activity (PA) has a clear association with diaphyseal morphology, the association between PA and articular surface size is yet to be confirmed. This cross-sectional study aimed to clarify the role of moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA) in knee morphology in terms of tibiofemoral joint size.

Methods: A sample of 1508 individuals from the population-based Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1966 was used. At the age of 46, wrist-worn accelerometers were used to monitor MVPA (≥3.5 METs) during a period of two weeks, and knee radiographs were used to obtain three knee breadth measurements (femoral biepicondylar breadth, mediolateral breadth of femoral condyles, mediolateral breadth of the tibial plateau). The association between MVPA and knee breadth was analyzed using general linear models with adjustments for body mass index, smoking, education years, and accelerometer weartime.

Results: Of the sample, 54.8% were women. Most individuals were non-smokers (54.6%) and had 9—12 years of education (69.6%). Mean body mass index was 26.2 (standard deviation 4.3) kg/m2. MVPA was uniformly associated with all three knee breadth measurements among both women and men. For each 60 minutes/day of MVPA, the knee breadth dimensions were 1.8—2.0% (or 1.26—1.42 mm) larger among women (p < 0.001) and 1.4—1.6% (or 1.21—1.28 mm) larger among men (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Higher MVPA is associated with larger tibiofemoral joint size. Our findings indicate that MVPA could potentially increase knee dimensions through similar biomechanical mechanisms it affects diaphyseal morphology, thus offering a potential target in reducing tissue strains and preventing knee problems. Further studies are needed to confirm and investigate the association between articulation area and musculoskeletal health.

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Series: BMC musculoskeletal disorders
ISSN: 1471-2474
ISSN-E: 1471-2474
ISSN-L: 1471-2474
Volume: 23
Issue: 1
Article number: 517
DOI: 10.1186/s12891-022-05475-7
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3126 Surgery, anesthesiology, intensive care, radiology
Funding: The study was supported in part by Ministry of Education and Culture (grant numbers OKM/86/626/2014, OKM/43/626/2015, OKM/17/626/2016, OKM 47/626/2017, OKM/78/626/2018, OKM/54/626/2019, OKM/85/626/2019, OKM/88/626/2019, OKM/1096/626/2020). NFBC1966 received financial support from University of Oulu Grant no. 24000692, Oulu University Hospital Grant no. 24301140 and ERDF European Regional Development Fund Grant no. 539/2010 A31592.
Dataset Reference: The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due local privacy regulations but are available from the NFBC Project Center for applicants who meet criteria. Please see for more information.
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