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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ageing effects on muscles bones and joints

Ageing (aging) is a normal process for all living things. We usually observe that as we get older, our muscles or bones become weaker. Muscles, bones and joints are affected by the ageing process. Some joint and bone related health conditions are common in older people, such as Osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis. 
We are learning about "How ageing effects on muscles, bones and joints?"

Muscle and bone conditions common in older age: 
  • Osteoarthritis – the cartilage within the joint breaks down, causing pain and stiffness
  • Osteomalacia – the bones become soft, due to problems with the metabolism of vitamin D
  • Osteoporosis – the bones lose mass and become brittle. Fractures are more likely Rheumatoid arthritis – inflammation of the joints
  • Muscle weakness and pain – any of the above conditions can affect the proper functioning of the associated muscles.
Age-related changes in muscle: 
  • Muscle loses size and strength as we get older, which can contribute to fatigue, weakness and reduced tolerance to exercise. This is caused by a number of factors working in combination, including:
  • Muscle fibres reduce in number and shrink in size.
  • Muscle tissue is replaced more slowly and lost muscle tissue is replaced with a tough, fibrous tissue.
  • Changes in the nervous system cause muscles to have reduced tone and ability to contract.
Age-related changes in bone: Bone is living tissue. As we age, the structure of bone changes and this results in loss of bone tissue. Low bone mass means bones are weaker and places people at risk of breaks from a sudden bump or fall.
  • Bones become less dense as we age for a number of reasons, including:
  • An inactive lifestyle causes bone wastage.
  • Hormonal changes – in women, menopause triggers the loss of minerals in bone tissue. In men, the gradual decline in sex hormones leads to the later development of osteoporosis.
  • Bones lose calcium and other minerals.
Age-related changes in joints: In a joint, bones do not directly contact each other. They are cushioned by cartilage that lines your joints (articular cartilage), synovial membranes around the joint and a lubricating fluid inside your joints (synovial fluid).
As you age, joint movement becomes stiffer and less flexible because the amount of lubricating fluid inside your joints decreases and the cartilage becomes thinner. Ligaments also tend to shorten and lose some flexibility, making joints feel stiff.

Many of these age-related changes to joints are caused by lack of exercise. Movement of the joint, and the associated ‘stress’ of movement, helps keep the fluid moving. Being inactive causes the cartilage to shrink and stiffen, reducing joint mobility.

Researchers now suggest that many factors associated with ageing are due to inactivity, and that performing physical activity can help to reduce or reverse the risk of disability and chronic disease.

Exercise can prevent many age-related changes to muscles, bones and joints – and reverse these changes as well. It’s never too late to start living an active lifestyle and enjoying the benefits.


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