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Your bones and joints
Exercise is the best way to strengthen your bones and joints - and help prevent disease in the process. Bones and joints can be affected by weakening diseases such as osteoporosis or osteoarthritis, but strength training exercises can help to preserve bone mass and even increase bone density. Strengthening your bones and joints can also improve your balance and co-ordination, which means you're less likely to fall and injure yourself.
Strength training exercises include lifting weights or working with resistance tubes. Exercise that bears your body's weight is also helpful, such as walking, jogging and running. Here's some more information on how exercise can help in relation to specific diseases:
A study of patients with osteoarthritis showed that one group who followed a fitness programme of aerobic and resistance exercise developed less disability and pain than another group who did not. Exercising frequently for short periods of time, while guided by physical therapists or certified instructors, is the best strategy for patients with osteoarthritis to follow. They should also avoid high-impact sports such as squash, tennis or jogging, but low-impact aerobics could help stabilize and support the affected area, and even reduce swelling.
Exercise, by younger and older people alike, can slow the progression of osteoporosis in later life. Even exercising before adolescence can protect the body in later life, as it encourages the body to develop greater bone density in response to the stress that exercise puts on muscle and bone. While high impact weight-bearing exercises such as step aerobics are very beneficial to women before the onset of the menopause for increasing bone mass, after the menopause they can increase the risk of fractures, and older patients benefit more from regular, brisk long walks.