Blueprint for Better Joint Mobility: How Activity Keeps Your Bones Healthy as You Age

If you had to take a guess, how many bones would you estimate that our bodies contain?

The interesting part about our skeletal system is that it fluctuates as we age. Our skeletons are composed of at least 300 bones at birth (sometimes up to 350), and by the time we reach adulthood, we have somewhere between 206-208. Where do the other 100-some bones go? By the time we’re adults, some of the bones have fused together, and our bone mass reaches its peak as adults as well (around age 30).

With the many changes our bones go through as we age, it makes it incredibly important to take precautions to keep them healthy- staying active plays a big role in that.

Rebound providers suggest daily exercise in at least 30-minute increments.

Staying active is an effective way to ensure bone and joint mobility- even if that means low-impact activity. Inactivity can be a detriment to your overall musculoskeletal health. That’s why we suggest being mobile to stay mobile.

Exercise can help maintain joint mobility and health in many ways. We continue to lose muscle and bone mass with age, but exercise and activity in general have the to ability to slow that process.

Weight programs, bicycling, swimming, hiking and golfing are excellent low-intensity methods for maintaining the functionality of your bones and joints. Many patients believe they minimize their risk of injury by avoiding low-impact exercise, but they may be putting themselves at a higher risk. Exercise, especially in the forms mentioned above, may stimulate bone growth and prevent bone mass loss. These activities also have the ability to minimize stiffness, swelling and pain, while offering strength needed to avoid a fall.

If you find it difficult to make it to a gym or a structured exercise class or program, try to get a daily dose of activity in some way. This could be as simple as being more active in the comfort of your own home or neighborhood.

Rebound suggests amping up your physical activity in ways such as walking (preferably in a brisk fashion), gardening or other yard work. Even cleaning for 30-minute periods offers a way to add some movement to your day. Exercise does not have to be vigorous to make a difference in your overall bone health.

The important thing to remember is that moderate activity is better than no activity. In order to keep your joints from becoming stiff and your bones from becoming fragile, you must continue to use them.

Balance and strength are also key. Nearly 30% of people over age 65 fall each year, and 50% of those over 80 do. Using resistance bands or minimal weights, doing sitting exercises and practicing yoga are low-intensity ways to spice up your regimen and strengthen joints and surrounding muscles.

Incorporating balance exercises like leg raises and heel-to-toe walks are something we recommend as well. While these may not be as intense as swimming or golfing, they are effective in improving muscle control and preventing falls.

Whether you are considering increasing your physical activity around the home or at a fitness facility, it isn’t too late to get started! Speak with one of our Rebound physicians or physical therapists about how exercise can improve your mobility for an independent and healthy life.

Arthritis Foundation – Exercise Videos

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) – Staying Active as You Age

AAOS – Exercises for People Over 60

AAOS – Seniors and Exercise

AAOS – Fall Prevention

AAOS – Bone Health Basics