Over time studies have revealed that as you age, you may be able to slow the deterioration of bones and joints with exercise. The trick is to understand how much exercise and what sort of exercise is required.  It is clear though, that staying active as you age, is considered to be a major factor in maintaining a good quality of life as one grows older. To help understand living independently and remaining active there are general guidelines to help you realise health through exercise.

As one ages, muscle and bone mass is lost which may cause the development of problems in your muscles, joints, and bones. This could be back pain, osteoarthritis, or osteoporosis. Regular exercise will slow down the loss of muscle mass, strengthen bones, and reduce joint and muscle pain. Mobility and balance will also be improved, which will reduce the risk of falling and suffering a serious injury, such as a hip fracture.

It can take just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. The key is to find something that you enjoy doing and do it regularly. The activities need not be vigorous or overly strenuous. Take a brisk walk or wash your car. Moderate intensity is best, but even low-intensity activity is better than nothing. Whether you go on a bike ride, enjoy a yoga class or walk on the fairway, make exercise part of your daily routine.

Remember, it’s never too late to start. Physical activity is especially important the older one gets, and can help live independently for as long as possible. Even if you suffer from a chronic condition affecting your muscles, joints, or bones, lack of physical activity can make the condition worse.

It’s just the opposite. If you have a chronic condition e, or at least make it more difficult to live with. Medical research shows that physical activity is both safe and beneficial for people with arthritis, osteoporosis, and other chronic conditions of bones and joints.

It is clear that if you are injured or suffering an acute bout of back pain, you shouldn’t exercise, but by strengthening the muscles of your stomach, hips, and thighs, you can relieve chronic back pain and prevent your condition from getting worse.

Overall one should stay in good physical condition by running, walking, swimming, bicycle riding, or weight lifting. Use the correct lifting techniques to move objects. Maintain proper body weight.


While there are many types of arthritis, the most common form of this bone and joint condition is osteoarthritis. It is the leading cause of disability in people over the age of 55. Although the cause is unknown, the pain of osteoarthritis is caused by the deterioration of the cartilage and underlying bone in the joints.

Although it seems the opposite would apply, exercise will not cause more damage. Any type of exercise will strengthen joints and the surrounding muscles. It also will relieve joint stiffness and reduce pain. Inactivity can aggravate the problem because weak muscles around the joints can lead to joint instability.

Start with short, frequent sessions of physical activity. Remember, exercise also can help control other conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

Bone and joint deterioration has traditionally been linked to the process of aging, but evidence shows that musculoskeletal decline may be more strongly linked to a sedentary lifestyle than to the aging process itself.

The following exercise guidelines are optimal for maintaining bone and joint health as we age:

Resistance training. Although aerobic exercise is also necessary, it is not sufficient to consistently increase muscle strength, lean muscle, and bone mass. This strengthening can only be accomplished through prolonged, intense lower and upper body resistance training. Resistance training provides bonus benefits by decreasing fat mass and reducing the risk of strains, sprains, and acute fractures.

Endurance training. Sustained aerobic training promotes heart health, increases oxygen consumption, and has been linked to other benefits like maintenance of cartilage volumes. To maximize the benefit, seniors in good condition are encouraged to do a minimum of 150 to 300 minute of endurance training every week, in 10 to 30 minute episodes. When it is medically safe, seniors can increase the benefits by continually exceeding these minimum requirements. A lower amount of regular exercise is better than none, but may provide a more limited benefit.

Flexibility and balance. Seniors who devote two days a week to flexibility training, like sustained stretches, reap benefits in range of motion maintenance, improved balance, and reduced risk of injury. Just as progressive challenge increases the benefits of endurance training, progressively increasing the difficulty of balance postures is recommended to maximize results.

Understanding your exercise goals is a great place to start when designing an exercise program with your physician. These guidelines can help direct safe and healthy exercise habits that will support a happy, active lifestyle for a lifetime.


This article ” Safe Exercise for the Aging Person”  does not provide medical advice and is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a doctor for all medical advice. 

Meet Dr Peter Smith, a leading Orthopaedic Surgeon operating from the Mediclinic Milnerton in Cape Town, Western Cape. His practice is situated in the heart of this seaside town.  Dr Peter Smith not only offers patients the full spectrum of professional orthopaedic treatments, but specialises in total knee replacement, total hip replacement, sports injuries and the latest arthroscopic surgery techniques and computer guided surgery. He gained extensive experience in the latest arthroplasty techniques during his stay of 6 years in Australia where he performed more than a hundred primary and revision hip and knee replacements cases in a year.

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