One of the essential things to treat arthritis is movement. You absolutely must get some movement for your joints.
But a new study published in Nature Communications reveals that it’s not just if or how, but when you move that’s important.
In fact, move at the wrong time, and you can make your arthritis worse.
The study, led by scientists from The University of Manchester, explored how our internal body clocks, or circadian rhythms, could influence our musculoskeletal health.
Our daily behaviors and physiological patterns are governed by a 24-hour cycle, operated by a part of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus. This internal clock is affected by environmental cues like light, darkness, and hunger.
All systems in our bodies have their own clocks, and they are all synchronized with the central body clock in the brain. When their synchronization with the central clock is disrupted, it can increase the risk of various health conditions, including cardiovascular diseases.
This new research has now unlocked an interesting aspect concerning the body’s intervertebral disk and cartilage clocks, which were previously thought to be less influenced by the brain’s circadian timekeeping due to their lack of nerves and blood supply.
In a study on mice, the scientists noticed an increase of bone and cartilage deterioration when the poor critters were made to exercise during the time when their brains were usually resting, such as at night when it was dark or after large meals.
When they examined cartilage and intervertebral disc tissues, both inside the mice and after being removed to a dish in the laboratory, they discovered the reason for this finding.
They noticed that engaging in physical activities in the morning conveyed timing information from the brain’s light-sensitive central clock to weight-bearing skeletal tissues, essentially signaling these tissues to become active.
In effect, your brain notices the light, your skeletal tissues become active, the two clocks communicate this information to each other, and they are perfectly synchronized.
But, let’s say that you miss your usual morning exercise routine and try to make it up in the evening when the clocks in both your brain and skeletal tissues are still synchronized and moving towards their downtime.
The exercise will rapidly wake up your skeletal tissues, but your brain will want to stay in its resting phase. This disrupts not only the 24-hour cycle of your skeletal tissue clock, but also the synchronization between the clocks in your brain and skeletal tissue.
From these findings, the researchers concluded that we should exercise at the same time every day, so that the clocks can remain synchronized and run through their normal 24-hour cycle without disruption.
This rhythm alignment slows down the deterioration processes associated with arthritis and the thinning of bones.