Dr Caitriona Cunningham
Chartered physiotherapist, Dr Caitriona Cunningham, shares advice on how exercise and movement can benefit bones, joints and muscles.
1. Movement and exercise are good for maintaining bone and joint health. This means sitting less, doing more general, everyday physical activity and participating in structured exercise programmes and sports.
2. Adults should aim to get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week (e.g. very brisk walking, light cycling).
3. There’s always an exercise to suit – you just need to find the right type for you. Walking programmes suit a lot of people who just need to get started and want to integrate exercise into a busy life on an ongoing basis.
4. Maintaining a healthy weight by combining a physically active lifestyle with a healthy diet will help prevent the overloading of joints, which can lead to joint pain and arthritis.
5. As we age, we lose bone and muscle mass. It is recommended that adults train each major muscle group for two or three days each week using a variety of exercises and equipment. Impact exercises (e.g. skipping, marching, running, jumping) are also recommended to prevent, and slow down loss of bone.
6. At work and in your home, consider ways that you can reduce the risk of joint and muscle problems. Move regularly and think before you lift – get assistance, or use lifting and moving equipment for heavier tasks. Consider how you can best arrange your work set up e.g. your desk, chair and computer.
7. If you have specific health issues, or a painful muscle or joint problem, you may benefit from the guidance of a physiotherapist to get you on the right exercise track.
8. Being active, taking exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are good for managing chronic joint and muscle pain and some muscle soreness is to be expected when starting a new type of exercise.
9. Obviously, if you have an acute bone or joint injury it may require a health professional consultation, combined with a defined period of taking it easy but it will be important to get moving again to achieve recovery.