LONDON, April 9 /PRNewswire/ -- Think January is the biggest month for embarking upon a new diet and exercise regime? Think again.

As it turns out, March is the most popular month for people resolving to lose weight and get fitter. But, as the clocks go forward at the end of the March, it's April that we begin to get fit for real. We gain an hour's light, the days get warmer and the first sniff of spring heralds the not-too-distant approach of another glorious summer (!), apparently more of us will be making a conscious effort to shed those pounds and tone up now rather than at the beginning of the year. That's according to a survey conducted by leading market research specialists NPD. Last year, about 28% of people surveyed in the last week of January said they were on a diet, compared with about 30% at the end of March.

The peak of dieting is in March and April, because Summer is just around the corner and that's when you're going to be wearing fewer clothes, explains Harry Balzar, Vice President, NPD Group.

Eating healthily is only part of the solution in our quest for the 'body beautiful'. The amount of exercise you take will also greatly affect your chances of success of shedding that winter coat.

Studies show that regular exercise reduces the risk of some cancers, helps achieve and maintain weight loss, increases longevity, enhances wellbeing and lowers blood pressure. In essence, exercise keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better and, as the evenings become lighter, the desire to engage in sporting activities increases. Take any journey in the springtime, and it is impossible not to see at least one keen jogger, cyclist, or (depending on your postcode) roller-blader!

Overdo it though, or skip the appropriate warm-up and your efforts to avert a belly-flop on the beach are more likely to earn you an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon than achieve your weight-loss goals.

One of the most prevalent orthopaedic injuries is a meniscal tear and these types of knee injuries are more common than you might think. According to the Journal of Rheumatology, meniscal injuries are responsible for an estimated 25,000 hospital admissions per year in England and Wales alone.

The menisci (we have two in each knee) are our shock absorbers. One wrong move or twist, and the meniscus can get trapped or 'pinched' and, if the force of the twist is sufficient, the meniscus may tear leaving the patient in considerable pain.

A tear will usually result in surgery to repair and, in some cases replace, meaning taking time out from work to recover. Depending on the treatment provided, recovery times can vary between a few days and 12 weeks.


During the last few years, the technologies and materials available to surgeons to perform meniscal repairs have dramatically improved. Old-style treatments included complete or partial removal of the meniscus or more recently the insertion of a bovine implant (derived from cows). The latest advancement is a 'bio-compatible' polymer implant called Actifit manufactured by British Orthobiologics company Orteq Ltd.

During surgery, the damaged meniscus tissue is removed and replaced by the Actifit implant, which, once in place, acts as a matrix, promoting new meniscus-like tissue to grow into it. When new cartilage-like tissue has filled the defect, the sponge-like implant slowly dissolves.

Professor Rene Verdonk, one of Europe's most highly-regarded meniscal surgery experts explains:

If the meniscus is removed completely or partially, the patient's pain initially goes away in many cases - just to return at a later stage. Because there is not enough cartilage tissue to stop the shin and thighbones from rubbing against each other, sadly, the patient is almost certainly faced with an early onset of osteoarthritis. Eventually due to continuous pain, these patients will need further surgery, finally, ending up with a total knee replacement. If, however, an implant such as Actifit is used, it provides an opportunity for the body to grow meniscus-like replacement tissue and the patient may not develop early osteoarthritis, which is wonderful.

Annually, more than 1,500,000 meniscectomies (removal of the meniscus tissue) and 630,000 total knee replacements are performed in the US and Europe.


If you've spent the winter hibernating, remember that working out too hard too soon could lead to injury and undermine your efforts. As with any sport, it is important to take preventive measures before taking to the streets for a marathon run or even a leisurely bike ride. Ask any reputable sports therapist for guidance on the prevention of meniscal injuries and their advice would be two-fold:

Always wear the appropriate clothing and footwear for your sport and playing surface and most importantly, always ensure that you always warm up and stretch thoroughly before and after taking part in any sporting activity.

Whatever exercise you decide to embark upon this spring, enjoy - just watch those knees!

Contact: Polly Harrison e-mail: Tel: +44-(0)870-011-3955

Contact: Polly Harrison, e-mail: - Tel: +44-(0)870-011-3955