How your joints benefit from exercise

The human body is a marvel of engineering, but like all creations, it is subject to limitations. Over countless millennia, nature has created a form that is capable of wondrous feats including running, swimming, and climbing, but to maintain the human body at peak performance it takes some effort. Whether you are a world-class athlete or merely someone looking to stay reasonably fit, you should know how important it is to keep your joints in top shape.

Joint pain afflicts everyone occasionally, whether it is due to injury, repetitive stress or a degenerative condition like arthritis. In the vast majority of cases, these aches and pains are minor annoyances that resolve without serious medical intervention.

However, they may indicate that you should do more to keep them at optimal health.  There are many ways to keep your joints healthy, including a nutritious diet, nutritional supplements and preventive medicine, but the foremost method is regular exercises.

Why Exercises are important.

Given the many functions and mechanisms of joints in the human body. It is easy to understand why so many health conditions may affect one or more joints. Some of these may be systemic. Causing symptoms like swelling or joint pain throughout the body, while others may only affect certain joints.

Like most physiological components, your joints can be harmed as much from lack of use as overuse.  That is why medical authorities strongly recommend that you maintain a vigorous exercise regimen.  The specific exercises, number of sessions per week and intensity of fitness program should all be discussed with your physiotherapist prior to starting.

In general, movement is essential for maintaining joint health.  Use of joints naturally increases flexibility and strength, motion also lubricates joints and reduces swelling.  Not only will exercise help maintain joint health in the long term, but it will also help reduce joint pain symptoms almost immediately due to production of natural pain killers called endorphins.

Flexibility and range of motion are keys to joint health. You may not realize it. But staying in motion helps keep your tendons and ligaments strong, both of which are essential for mobility.

Stretching your muscles and joint tissue will help you retain joint function but will also help protect you from additional injury in the future which could detriment your joint health.

Exercise has many benefits, but one that is often overlooked is how it helps you improve your balance.  Seemingly simple acts like walking, standing or sitting actually require complex coordination of many muscles and sense organs. Regular exercise helps maintain the strength of these key muscles, as well as the cognitive processes that coordinate complex motions.

Another important consideration is that regular exercise helps keep your weight down. Excess body weight can greatly increase the stress on joints like the spine, knees and ankles. In fact, one pound of body weight translates into four pounds of pressure on knees while walking and more than ten pounds while running. 

Maintaining a healthy weight can relieve strain on joints and reduce joint pain; some studies show that body fat actually makes you more sensitive to pain symptoms.

Philis Wangui,
Physiotherapist

How Your Joints Benefit from Exercises

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