Less than one in three Americans get the amount of exercise each week recommended for optimal health. Looking to maintain healthy bones and joints as you age? Now’s the time to start exercising regularly.
We often take physical activity for granted. We fit it in when we can, but don’t stress too much when we don’t get any exercise.
That mindset can cost you as you age. Regular physical activity is vitally important, helping to greatly lower your risk for most serious and chronic health conditions. It can keep you living at your healthiest, with a reduced risk of getting sick.
But even more than that, did you know it can also benefit your bones and joints?
“If I had to recommend one habit people could have that would help them build healthy bones and joints, it’s exercise, without question,” says Fred Sesti, primary care nurse practitioner with West Tennessee Medical Group. “Even if you already have arthritis or some other condition that makes your joints ache, physical activity will still benefit your health and even help relieve your symptoms.”
Exercise & Healthy Bones
Did you know that being physically inactive can actually lead to bone loss?
As we get older, bones can weaken and become fragile due to a number of factors, including the aging process, medications and medical conditions. This leads to a condition called osteoporosis, which is incredibly common among women who have gone through menopause, as well as older men.
When your bones weaken, that makes them much more susceptible to fractures. You’ll also be at a higher risk of falling and have diminished mobility and independence.
But you can take steps to promote healthy bones—literal steps! You know that physical activity helps make your muscles strong, but it also helps make your bones strong.
Bone is a living tissue, and it changes over time. If you are exercising regularly, the pressure you’re putting on your bones causes your body to adapt by building more bone and making existing bone more dense.
Exercise & Healthy Joints
If you have a condition like arthritis that causes joint pain, exercise may be the last thing on your mind. But the reality is: Physical activity can be your best friend.
That’s because regular exercise can actually ease the aches and other unpleasant symptoms associated with joint pain. Physical activity promotes good joint health.
Why is that? Well, there are a number of reasons, all related to how your body handles the movement involved in physical activity.
For one, when you are physically active, the tissue around your joints (called the synovial membrane) releases a fluid called “synovial fluid.” This essentially greases things up in the joint, allowing your bones to move more easily past each other during movement.
When you exercise, your heart pumps, which also benefits your joints, believe it or not. Your heart beating helps increase blood circulation to the joints. This also pushes nutrients to the joints, along with vital oxygen, and it removes what’s known as “cellular waste,” damaged cells found in the joints.
The Best Types of Exercise for Healthy Bones & Joints
Wondering what kind of physical activity is best? The short answer: whatever kind keeps you moving!
With that said, there are certain types of exercise that are particularly beneficial for promoting healthy bones. When it comes to bone health, you want to choose activities that are known as “weight-bearing” or “resistance” exercises.
Weight-bearing activities don’t mean you’re actually bearing weights! Instead, they are exercises that force your body to work against gravity, creating pressure that—as we mentioned earlier—stimulates bone growth and increases bone density. Walking, hiking, jogging, dancing and playing tennis are all weight-bearing activities.
Resistance activities, on the other hand, may mean you’re bearing weights! You can use weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or your own body weight to create resistance against your body.
When it comes to your joint health, all types of exercise can be beneficial. The key for exercising with achy joints is to find activities that are joint-friendly, meaning they keep excess pressure off your joints while still keeping you moving.
Walking, swimming, strength training, yoga, tai chi, pilates and water aerobics are good examples of joint-friendly activities. This type of exercise will ultimately benefit your joints and help alleviate discomfort and other arthritis symptoms.
Looking to become a healthier version of yourself? LIFT Wellness Center can help you do just that, offering a full-service fitness center, including exercise and weight management programs.