08 July, 2011
The Effects of Exercise on Joints
Your body’s joints are the key ingredients that keep the proverbial bag of bones at bay. Joints are categorized by their level of mobility -- immovable, partially movable and freely movable -- all of which support some aspect of movement. The health and stamina of your joints is greatly dependent on the health of the bones, muscles and various structures that support them. Regular low-impact exercise has a positive effect on securing these relationships.
Whenever you use the term “flexibility” in a physical sense, you are really referring to the capacity of your joints and surrounding tissues to bend and stretch. Exercises that invoke joint and muscle flexing and extending increase the flexibility and range of motion of your joints, or their overall capacity for movement. Yoga and tai chi are excellent exercises that are especially beneficial for older adults as they promote joint flexibility without compromising joint stability.
Stability and Support
Your joints require movement to help keep them from the clutches of arthritis, or painful joint inflammation. Regular participation in low-impact aerobics such as cycling, walking and swimming helps to ward off arthritis by strengthening and stabilizing joints and their surrounding tissues. If you’re already battling an arthritic condition, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends that you avoid high-impact exercises like jogging, racquetball and tennis, which tend to increase joint strain, especially in the knees.
Joint pain and fatigue are not necessarily sidekicks of aging. Inactivity and its dedication to shrinking the muscles and connective tissues that surround your joints is really the culprit. Joint inflammation and the hindering of joint lubrication -- known as synovial joint fluid -- that it inspires are secondary influences. Regular exercise can aid in preventing the joint pain associated with aging by strengthening surrounding cartilage, a connective tissue and joint shock absorber that protects your bones from wearing down.
Potential Knee Strain
Your one-way-moving knee joints are at a particular disadvantage in terms of injury protection due to the lack of muscle tissue that surrounds them. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, almost 1 million Americans opted for a total knee or hip replacement in 2006 as a response to arthritic disability and pain. The reality of knee vulnerability increases the need for low-impact strengthening exercises in surrounding muscles, particularly those in the thighs.
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