Exercise: The Key to Active Aging
by HEALTH AFTER 50
Exercise can be a double-edged sword if you’re an active older adult. You know that it can help manage or prevent musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, but you wonder sometimes whether the aches and pains you sometimes feel when exercising—as well as a risk of sustaining an injury or exacerbating your condition—are worth the effort.
A study in 2017 in Arthritis Care & Research, which included 350 people with knee osteoarthritis, revealed that nearly 80 percent of the participants feared movement and physical activity. Most were afraid of worsening joint pain or an injury. Yet exercise is so good for you that its benefits almost always outweigh its risks. Studies repeatedly show that exercise helps adults maintain physical function and mobility well into their golden years.
Strength-training and weight-bearing activities are particularly beneficial for people who have conditions such as arthritis or low bone density because they can improve muscle strength and flexibility, minimize bone loss, improve balance, and reduce fall risk. Aerobic exercise improves heart health and mood and helps keep off excess weight, which can put enormous pressure on joints like the knees and hips.