Joint Health Strengthened by Physical Activity and Exercise

As our population ages, with about 25 percent over the age of 45, consideration of joint health is important. For individuals to remain active with their family and in the community, good joint health is necessary. Presently, osteoarthritis impacts more than 30 million individuals, and is expected to double in the next 20 years. With this in mind, it is essential to be proactive.

An article published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy in June 2018 discusses the benefits of physical activity and exercise for individuals with hip and knee osteoarthritis. The authors note a relationship of osteoarthritis with numerous chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. A key finding was the association physical activity and exercise had on reducing the physical and financial burden of chronic disease.

Many with osteoarthritis fear activity or exercise after being told it will make things worse. Sometimes people just stop moving because of soreness. This is the worst thing they can do.

The process of becoming more active or remaining active safely in the presence of joint health concerns begins with an examination or assessment of a person’s physical status. Seeing a physical therapist is a great place to start, because they are experts in caring for people with joint health concerns and know how to assist individuals into exercise.

Together, a plan will be developed to get the patient safely moving. There may be some soreness along the way, but that is fine. No one ever begins any exercise program without some soreness, and it will not be causing more damage. More damage to the joints and pain would actually occur by doing nothing at all, as the joints then become less tolerant of activity.

After working through an initial physical therapy program, the therapist can help find a safe form of exercise that is enjoyable. There is no one exercise or activity that is better than the next; the answer lies in what the patient finds enjoyable and working with an instructor that understands their individual needs.

The time for wait and see is over. It is time to get moving for better joint and overall health and wellness.

Dr. Andrew Zang, owner of Zang Physical Therapy, is board certified in orthopedics and a fellowship-trained physical therapist. For more information, call 717-440-6197.

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