Exercise is important for us, that much is clear. It helps to get the cardiovascular system working and this helps us to remain in good shape overall. But as we get older, can exercise damage our ageing joints?

Helping to prevent heart disease and other conditions that can pose a real threat to our well-being in the long term, exercise is also important for our mental health. Therefore, it is important that we continue to exercise as we get older, perhaps even more so. Doing so can not only help to prolong life but also enhance the quality of life.

Unfortunately, however, there are downsides. Exercise gets harder for us as we get older. Our bodies are just not as willing as they used to be, no matter how eager our minds may be. Then there’s the matter of the physical impact of exercise on our bodies. With exercise comes the risk of injury. It can also contribute to conditions such as

Can exercise damage our ageing joints?

At the ends of our bones, where they form joints with other bones, we have cartilage. This material is softer than bone and helps to act like a cushion, protecting the bone from contact with other bones in the joint. This allows us to move the joint freely, but time can have an impact on how well this system works.

can exercise damage our ageing joints

As we use our joints, the cartilage can literally begin to wear down. This will cause the cartilage to become thinner and, in some instances, the bone can even become exposed. This causes the ends of the bones to come into direct contact with other bones, and this can be very painful. It can leave the patient in agony and can also leave them immobile as they are left unable to use their joints.

This condition will most commonly affect the knees, hands, spine and hips. It is one of the leading reasons why people get hip replacement surgery. The procedure will replace the joint with an artificial joint and it should hopefully eliminate pain and restore mobility to the patients.

Should We Exercise?

The problem of wear and tear on our joints might appear to bring us to somewhat of a conundrum. Exercise is still important to us, yet we obviously don’t want to wreck our joints. Fortunately, the answer is not necessarily as difficult as it may first seem.

Firstly, many peoples’ joints remain healthy well into their old age. If you are unsure, get checked out by a professional first. It could well that you have many more running years left in you yet.can exercise damage our ageing joints

Even if you are informed that you need to take it easy on your joints, that still does not necessarily mean that you can no longer exercise. Running, for example, may be out of the question because of the impact on your joints each time a foot lands on the hard ground below. Swimming, however, involves no such impact, making it less harmful to your joints. If you like to be outside in the fresh air, then cycling is another option that will allow you to exercise while having less impact on your joints.

The important thing when exercising is to get your heart and lungs working, and this can be achieved with minimal impact on your joints. If you are approaching your middle ages, then it can be a good idea to get your joints checked out by a professional to determine whether it is time to start taking it easier on them. In changing your exercise regime, you could be ensuring that you are able to continue exercising for longer than you would otherwise be able to.

Physio Leeds is the business of Chartered Physiotherapist Angela Hinton, MCSP, HPC. If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, get in touch today to see how we can help.