Research Reveals Age-Defying Bone And Joint Health

We want to delay the effects of aging for as long as possible. New research with senior athletes may have uncovered the secret to defying the passage of time.


According to popular wisdom, with age comes an inevitable decline in bone and joint health. But new research is challenging this assumption. When researchers reviewed the latest studies of senior athletes age 65 and older, they discovered two factors that seem to minimize bone and muscle deterioration, injury, and disease. These factors do not involve a new medication or special treatments. They are, in fact, basics that medicine has always promoted to maintain good health:

  • Ongoing dedication to fitness
  • Good nutrition

The research review appears in the September 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS). Contrary to the assumption that our bodies inevitably deteriorate and become more prone to injury, disease, and bone and joint conditions as we age, the researchers found that we can modulate the age-related decline of our musculoskeletal system.

Studies with elite senior athletes suggest that when seniors follow a comprehensive fitness and nutrition routine, they can minimize bone and joint decline and maintain overall health. The implication? A lot of the deterioration we experience over time may not be inevitable. Bone and joint health decline may be more closely tied to slowing into a more sedentary lifestyle than it is to the aging process itself.

This gives seniors—and all of us—even more incentive to maintain a diet including healthy servings of daily protein and carbohydrates and a comprehensive regimen of physical activity encompassing resistance, endurance (150 to 300 minutes a week minimum), flexibility, and balance training. When we follow safe and healthy eating and exercise habits under medical guidance, we contribute to the following positive conditions that defy age:

  • Maintaining bone density
  • Building muscle mass
  • Supporting ligament and tendon function
  • Sustaining cartilage volume

Of course, whenever an older adult considers diet and exercise changes, it is important to work with a physician to design an individualized program reflecting the patient’s baseline level of conditioning and disability. It is also important to begin gradually, particularly if the patient is elderly or poorly conditioned. Under proper guidance, discovering the fabled fountain of youth may be as simple as committing to healthy eating and regular exercise.

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