Muscle Joint And Bone Health


Muscle Joint And Bone Health

bone health

As we get older we begin to show the unavoidable telltale signs. Grey hair and wrinkles being the most obvious. But we must remember that our muscles, joints and bones are also aging. It was believed that changes to our muscles, joints and bones were inevitable but research has shown us that this may not be the case. A lot of factors associated with aging are caused by physical inactivity and simply adding a healthy eating plan and moderate exercise to your daily routine can reduce the risk, prevent or reverse chronic disease and disability.


Some common musculoskeletal conditions in the elderly include:

  • Osteoarthritis – The cartilage in the joint breaks down causing pain and stiffness
  • Osteomalacia – Due to difficulty metabolizing vitamin D, which is necessary for calcium absorption, the bones become soft
  • Osteoporosis – Bone mass decreases and the bones become brittle increasing the risk of fractures
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – Inflammation of the joints
  • Muscular pain and weakness – All of the above conditions can affect the proper functioning of muscles causing pain and weakness


Age-related Changes In Muscle

As we get older our muscles lose both size (muscular atrophy) and strength which may contribute to fatigue and weakness.


There are a number of factors which cause this, including:

  • Muscle fibers shrink in size and reduce in numbers
  • Muscle tissue is replaced at a reduced rate with a fibrous tissue
  • Muscles have less tone and the ability to contract is reduced


Age-related Changes In Bone

We must remember that bone is living tissue and as such will degenerate with age. As we lose bone mass the bones become weaker putting people at a higher risk of fractures


Some of the reasons that bones lose density include:

  • Having an inactive lifestyle (you must use it or lose it)
  • Hormonal changes – In menopausal women there is a loss of minerals within the bone tissue which can lead to a rapid decrease in bone density leading to osteoporosis. In men, due to a much more gradual decline in sex hormones, the speed of bone mass loss is reduced
  • As we age bones lose calcium and other minerals weakening their structure


Age-related Changes In Joints

In a joint bones are cushioned by cartilage (articular cartilage), synovial membranes and a lubricating fluid (synovial fluid). As we get older the amount of lubricating fluid is reduced and our cartilage becomes thinner causing joint stiffness, loss of flexibility and pain. With lack of use our ligaments also tend to shorten adding to the loss of flexibility and joint stiffness.



Physical Activity Can Help

Research shows that:

  • Exercise can strengthen bones and slow the rate of bone loss
  • Physical activity can increase both muscle mass and strength
  • Co-ordination and balance exercises can help reduce the risk of falls
  • Physical activity slows down the reduction of bone mineral density which can delay the onset of conditions such as osteoporosis
  • The best type of exercise for maintenance of bone mass is any weight bearing exercise such as walking or lifting weights. If you prefer, Tai Chi or Yoga may be of benefit
  • Exercising in water – for example aqua aerobics, has reduced weight bearing but will still increase bone and muscle mass, it is a great alternative for the elderly experiencing problems with weight bearing exercises
  • For joint flexibility it is important to incorporate gentle stretching into your daily routine



  • Before starting any form of exercise routine it is important to talk to your doctor. In most cases they can tailor the perfect exercise routine taking into consideration any problems that you may have
  • Diet and exercise go hand in hand so establish a healthy eating plan – as your body begins to strengthen and grow so will your appetite