Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones become brittle and are more likely to break. It can have many causes from diet and medication to genetics and disease, but for most people it’s a result of the natural loss of bone density that occurs as we age. Smaller bones such as those in your wrist and spine are particularly vulnerable to fracture if you have osteoporosis, with fractured vertebrae often being the cause for collapsed back posture.
What you may not realise is that – much like muscle – bone can be trained to become stronger. High impact, weight-bearing exercises will cause the body to increase the density of bone where it experiences high load. Muscle strengthening can also reduce the risk of breakage caused by osteoporosis by providing support and offloading force from the bone, while weight loss can ease their burden.
David wrote about arthritis in greater detail in this blog which you can read by clicking here, but to summarise, arthritis is a condition that causes pain or inflammation in a joint. This can be dangerous in old age as the pain makes it difficult to exercise, causing a vicious cycle of pain, inactivity, weakness and injury which can exacerbate muscle wasting and lead to numerous health problems.
Though it may be difficult at first, exercise is the best way of treating the symptoms of arthritis and reducing its spread. Like in osteoporosis, having strong muscles and tendons and reducing your weight can offload pressure on the joint, making it less painful and reducing the rate of wear and tear. As a bonus, endorphins released by exercise also work as a natural pain killer.
The rate at which unused muscle wastes away increases exponentially as you age. Inactivity can rapidly lead to weakness and a metabolism that’s slowed even further due to the reduction of active muscle and the vital, energy-generating mitochondria they contain. A loss of muscle mass makes you more vulnerable to injury as your bones and joints lack the support they need to keep you moving.
This means that full body exercise becomes even more essential the older you get. If you only train your lower body with exercises such as jogging, you’ll still experience muscle wasting in your upper body, including vital support for your spine. With the right exercise programme, you can gain muscle faster than you lose it, and at WLP we’ve helped people in their 90s increase their muscle strength.
As we age, our circulation begins to slow, leading to numerous health problems from impeded digestion and cold extremities, to more serious conditions like deep vein thrombosis and strokes. Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and other conditions can further reduce the function of your circulatory system.
Cardiovascular training must be included in your fitness routine to restore or strengthen circulatory function, but make sure that you consult with a specialist first as some exercises may not be suitable for you. For example, high impact exercises like jogging aren’t best if you suffer from severe arthritis, so alternatives like swimming or using a cross trainer can keep your heart healthy without causing you pain.
Loss of Appetite
When you’re less active, you’re less hungry, but if you don’t eat right, your body won’t have the nutrients it needs to keep healthy and strong, which is especially important as the speed at which your cells repair slows down as you age. There are numerous other reasons you may lose your appetite, from a lack of sensitivity in your taste buds to digestive problems.
Exercise can help rekindle a lost appetite by simply making your body more calorie hungry. As you gain muscle mass, you need more food to keep your body fuelled, while the exercise itself should leave you hungry for a hearty meal. The more you eat, the more active you can be, and the more active you are, the more you’ll want to eat.
As you may have noticed, all the above challenges are closely related. On one hand, this emphasises the importance of taking a holistic view to your health and fitness, but on the other, it can be overwhelming to try and tackle so much at once.
If you don’t know where to start, then please make an appointment with us by calling 0207 937 1628 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you a full understanding of your current health and fitness and a detailed plan to help you make the most of your body.
Kam Sowman BSc (Physio) MCSP MHCP
Musculoskeletal and Sports Physiotherapist
For any other questions regarding this topic please do not hesitate to contact me at West London Physio on 0207 937 1628 or email email@example.com