Exercising to keep joints strong

Exercise helps to maintain joint mobility as you grow older.

Exercising to keep joints strong

Strong joints are essential for enabling us to move freely as we age. Exercise not only helps to keep joints flexible and strong, but it also promotes weight loss, which has the added benefit of taking the pressure off your bones and joints. Here are some suggestions to help exercise safely and take care of your joints.

Warm up first

It’s essential to warm up before doing exercise to prepare your body for rigorous physical activity. Failing to warm up properly can result in strain or damage to muscles, ligaments, tendons, bones and joints. Make sure you warm up all muscle groups that will be involved in your exercise with gentle stretches, such as side bends, shoulder shrugs, arm circles, overhead stretches and bending down to your toes while keeping a slight bend in your knees. Remember to ease your body into the stretches and don’t push further than is comfortable. Find out more about warming up at Livestrong.com.

Choose exercises for joint strength

Strength training will make your bones and muscles strong by placing them under stress –as the saying goes, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’.

Muscle mass also decreases with age, so it then becomes even more important to lift weights and perform weight-bearing activities, as they will help build the muscles surrounding your joints, providing cushioning and support. You can use hand weights, resistance bands or even a one-litre water bottle with which to train. Ensure that you use weights you can manage with good technique. Talk to a certified personal trainer to find the best strengthening program for you.

Aerobic exercise (cardio) is great for managing weight and maintaining a healthy heart. While cardio exercise may not do much to strengthen joints, the associated weight loss helps you to take the burden off joints, especially your knees and hips.

Those with aching joints would do best to focus on low impact exercises, such as swimming, Pilates, tennis, golf and dancing.

Always check with your doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have bone and joint problems.

Know your own limits

For exercise to be beneficial, it should challenge you and cause your heart rate to increase. But at the same time, it shouldn’t be too extreme. Muscular fatigue in the day or two following is normal and shows you’ve done a good workout. However, there shouldn’t be any lasting pain in your joints or bones. Be aware of your own limits and what your body can do. If you experience pain that lasts longer than a few days, or have pain during a workout, stop doing the exercise and consult a doctor.

Learn more about keeping your frame strong and what to eat to keep your joints healthy.


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    6th Jul 2015
    If you tend to get stiff in the joints, it's better to drink at home - much safer.
    Young Simmo
    7th Jul 2015
    I agree Fast Eddie, I drink at home every night because the beer fridge is 2 metres away and the local pub is 4,321 metres away. That accounts for my knees. Moving the glass or can from the table to my mouth accounts for my incredibly fit elbows. Playing Spider Solitaire on the puter accounts for my unbelievably fit fingers. I stopped belting the Mrs behind the head because I dislocated my shoulder. Over all I am travelling along very nicely, HIC, HIC, HIC.
    6th Jul 2015
    I take issue with the type of 'warm-up' exercises mentioned here. The current thinking on warm ups is that the warm up activity should be a simpler version of the activity you are about to do, walking for example if you are heading for a jog or run. Stretching before exercise has proven to have no affect on the rate of injury and in fact bending over to touch your toes is not recommended in many cases since forward flexion can actually cause injury to some people.

    Before charging in to these or any other activities I would strongly recommend having at least one session with an Exercise Physiologist or Personal Trainer, to get a program and be shown how to do all the exercises properly and safely. I am a big supporter of exercise for all ages and especially as we age. Inactivity is the cause of much unnecessary pain and ill health. But we need to do what is appropriate and safe for us as an individual.
    fish head
    6th Jul 2015
    Give Tai Chi a try. It has given me back my knees although I do creak in the mornings,
    6th Jul 2015
    I'd say "Try fish oil", but I don't want to be offensive.
    6th Jul 2015
    Should there be any types of vitamin supplements taken? I've been given mixed advice on this.
    7th Jul 2015
    Drinking at home is much safer, but more than two standard drinks per day can negatively affect health, including bones. Tai Chi and yoga are great for flexibility and joint support. Weight bearing exercise is key. Vitamin D (1-2 capsules per day) has research to support it's importance for many body functions, especially bone health. It seems sunshine is back in fashion, but 20 minutes exposure per day. Fish or Krill Oil help some people, try it to see if it makes a difference. Also review the natural food sources (oily wild fish such as mackerel, tuna and salmon), which will give you much better nutrient benefit. I majored in Nutrition BHealthSc. and am sceptical about any advice that is not scientific evidence based. This website gives a good summary http://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/benefits-vitamin-d#Overview1
    7th Jul 2015
    Not sure that stretching should be used as a warm-up exercise. The trainer at my gym gets me to alternate walking and running on a treadmill for about 4Ks before doing about 20 min of weights and only then do I stretch. I'm 68 and never have aches and pains. Something is working so why change.
    7th Jul 2015
    I would like some exercises to suit my body I am 80years old and have had replacements both knees one hip and a laminectomy of spine have osteo arthritis for 40 years I cannot walk far but would like some exercises that I can do sitting down I cannot see specific ones to suit me any ideas I want to strengthen my body so I can be more mobile thanks you
    I have never smoked or nor do I drink
    7th Jul 2015
    Hi Lizzie, all power to you using the internet. I've just googled "seated exercises for elderly" and it came up with many sites, including a ten minute YouTube clip that demonstrates what to do. Remember to start out slowly. https://www.google.com/search?q=seated+exercises+for+elderly&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8
    7th Jul 2015
    Thank you Joybellau
    I will certainly check this site out yes I want to take a holiday and be more mobile not only for that but all the time Yes I know to start slowly Thanks again Lizzie
    7th Jul 2015
    Lizzie Back
    I have looked up site this is just what I need /have been looking for You have made my day Joybellau thank you
    8th Jul 2015
    Having been a publican since the 1960's, I used to drink beer only (full strength, as it used to be). After some years, I graduated to single malts, so I could have the bottle beside my glass, thus saving the barmaids having to walk for my drink. Then, in the 1990's, I read that the optimal consumption for good health was 3 bottles of red wine per night, which I studiously tried to maintain, although these days I don't always get past the second bottle.
    8th Jul 2015
    HI Stoney
    were you saving the barmaids from their walking exercises
    so that you could exercise your arm with elbow to mouth
    either way you both seemed to miss out seeing you only managed two bottles of RED
    tongue in cheek have a good one [bottle red ]

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