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Regular Physical Activity Improves Joint Health

Joint HealthMost people experience musculoskeletal problems or disorders at some point in their life time. As per a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control, joint pain is the leading cause of disability in the United States with more than one third of the American population suffering from joint disorders (about which 30% are male, 55% are female and 15% are children).

A new study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (JAAOS) reveals that regular physical activity and nutrition regimens reduce the signs of aging such as bone and joint problems, thereby maintaining the overall health in older adults.

Researchers point out that there is an increasing amount of evidence showing that a sedentary lifestyle could be attributed as a leading cause for age-related decline in the musculoskeletal system and deterioration due to aging. The study also signifies the positive effects of physical activity in maintaining bone density, muscle mass, ligament and tendon function and cartilage volume. Researchers recommend a combined physical activity regimen comprising resistance, flexibility and balance training.

The need for proper nutrition for older adults to optimize their performance was highlighted as part of the study. For active adults or senior athletes, a daily protein intake of 1.0 to 1.5/kg and carbohydrate consumption of 6 to 8 g/kg (more than 8 g/kg in the days leading up to an endurance event) were also recommended.

Following a healthy lifestyle along with a balanced diet and regular exercise programs can facilitate better pain management. An increased level of physical activity will strengthen the muscles and increase flexibility. The fitness regimes for older adults must be individualized as per their baseline of conditioning and disability, and it must be instituted gradually and safely (especially older adults) as overdoing the same may lead to severe complications. Physical therapy exercises such as stretching and isometric strengthening exercises may improve joint functioning and increase joint strength.

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