You At Your Best

December 2017 • Senior Celebrations

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SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 25, 2017 | DECEMBER - SENIOR CELEBRATIONS NWADG.COM/YOUATYOURBEST | YOU AT YOUR BEST | 17 Did you know? METRO CREATIVE SERVICES According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular physical activity is one of the most important things older adults can do to promote their long-term health. The CDC recommends that men and women age 65 or older who are generally fit and have no limiting health conditions need at least two hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, each week. In addition, such people should perform strength-training activities that work all major muscle groups at least two days per week. While many fit older men and women with no preexisting health conditions are capable of these activities, those able to push themselves a little further can opt for 75 minutes per week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, such as jogging or running, combined with the same strength-training regimen. A combination of moderate- and vigorous- intensity aerobic activity coupled with strength training may also provide adequate physical activity for aging men and women. Before beginning a new exercise regimen, men and women should consult with their physicians to discuss any limitations they may have and how to manage those risks while still being physically active. BY SARAH HANEY NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE The most common chronic condition of the joints in the United States is osteoarthritis. It affects over 30 million U.S. adults and is usually diagnosed through a physical examination and review of symptoms, X-rays, and lab tests. While osteoarthritis, or OA, can affect people of all ages, it's most common in men and women over the age of 65. Understanding osteoarthritis and how to prevent and manage the disease can help men and women over the age of 50 reduce their risk and live more comfortably even if they develop OA. According to the Arthritis Foundation, healthy joints are covered by cartilage, a flexible connective tissue that covers the end of each bone. Cartilage facilitates motion of the joints and serves as a cushion between the bones. When a person has OA, cartilage breaks down, causing swelling and pain and affecting the mobility of the joint. Over time, OA can worsen and cause bones to break down and develop bone spurs, which form when bones meet each other in the joints. OA can even advance to a point where cartilage wears away and bone rubs against bone, creating even more pain while damaging the joints even further. Once considered a byproduct of the wear and tear the human body naturally endures over a lifetime, OA is now viewed as a disease. The following are some potential causes of OA. • Genes: Certain genetic traits can increase a person's likelihood of developing OA. Collagen is a protein that makes up cartilage, and, while rare, a genetic defect that affects the body's production of cartilage can lead to OA occurring in people as young as 20 years old. Researchers have also noted that the gene FAAH is more commonly found in people with OA of the knee than in people who don't have the disease. FAAH has been previously linked with pain sensitivity. • Weight: Being overweight increases a person's risk for a host of ailments and diseases, and OA can be counted among them. Extra weight puts additional pressure on hips and joints, and over time those extra pounds can cause cartilage to break down more quickly than it would if the body was not carrying extra weight. • Injury: Men and women who have suffered injuries to their joints may be at greater risk of developing OA than those with no such injury history. • Overuse: Overuse of joints, tendons and ligaments can accelerate the breakdown of cartilage and increase a person's risk of developing OA. Cartilage also can break down more quickly in the bodies of athletes and people whose careers require them to stand for extended periods of time, bend over frequently and/or lift heavy items. • Preexisting conditions: Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, hemochromatosis and acromegaly may also contribute to the development of OA among people diagnosed with such disorders. • Gender: Women are more likely to develop OA than men, especially after age 50. Men and women who maintain healthy weights and exercise regularly and appropriately may be able to prevent the onset of OA. Appropriate exercises include strength training that focuses on building muscles around the joints, even if those joints are already affected by OA. Strong muscles around the joints can reduce the pain associated with OA, while range-of- motion exercises can improve flexibility of the joints and reduce stiffness. Aerobic exercise also helps men and women maintain healthy weights while facilitating weight loss for those who are already overweight. Joining a self-management education class can be beneficial as well. It can help those suffering from OA understand how the arthritis affects their lives and increase their confidence in controlling their symptoms and living well. Those already diagnosed with OA should speak with their physicians before beginning an exercise regimen, and such conversations can also include discussions about the various medications that can be used to reduce symptoms of OA. More information about OA is available at Managing osteoarthritis and knowing the symptoms Chronic

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