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Healthy Bones and Joints Attributed to Fitness
- Updated: August 30, 2014
A new study being published next month in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (JAAOS) suggests that staying physically active is the key to improving musculoskeletal and overall health. The study also shows that exercise and physical activity could slow the effects of aging since much of the deterioration seen in the aging population is connected to a sedentary lifestyle.
This study involved a group of senior athletes, those over the age of 65. For years, experts believed aging was the reason for deterioration of the body, which then impacts function. It was also assumed that certain injuries to include sprains, fractures, diabetes, obesity, and osteoarthritis, as well as various other joint and bone diseases, were directly linked to the elderly.
However, in this recent study, researchers found that good nutrition and physical activity actually minimized incidences of joint and bone disease but also showed an improvement in overall health. According to Dr. Bryan G. Vopat, orthopedic surgeon and author of the study, an increasing volume of evidence shows a decline of health problems specific to the musculoskeletal system when following a well-balanced diet and getting adequate exercise.
In addition, Vopat stated that the key to achieving optimal physical function and health was maintaining bone density, tendon and ligament function, cartilage volume, and muscle mass attainable through regular physical activity. It was also recommended that combining a good workout regimen with endurance, balance training, flexibility, and resistance was crucial.
For this, experts suggest moderate intensive aerobic training, which increases oxygen consumption, promotes a healthy heart, and has been proven to provide benefits to the musculoskeletal system to include less fat mass, cartilage volume, and muscle strength. Adults are recommended to complete at least 150 but no more than 300 minutes of endurance training a week, broken down into 10 to 30 minute sessions.
Balance Training and Flexibility
For older adults who live an active lifestyle, the recommendation is to maintain range of motion, reduce risk of injury, and optimize functional performance. Using flexibility training two to three times a day to include non-resistant movements and sustained stretches helps tremendously. To improve but also maintain balance, adults should perform increasingly difficult postures as tolerated.
The includes prolonged but also intense resistance training as a means of increasing bone mass, lean muscle, and muscle strength. While aerobic exercise is important, benefits increase when resistance training is added to the regimen. With sustained lower and upper body resistance, bone density is bolstered and risk of sprains, as well as fractures reduced.
Vopat and his team also found nutrition to be a critical part of achieving strong bones and joints, but also overall good health. To optimize functional performance, people over the age of 65 need proper nutrition. This includes daily intake of 1.0 to 1.5 g/kg of protein and 6 to 8 g/kg of carbohydrates.
Of course, when it comes to both nutrition and physical activity for aging adults, some modification is expected, based on each individual’s ability and current health. These individuals should work closely with a doctor on devising the right plan and then gradually progress to ensure safety.