While my mother exercises five or six times a week walking and swimming, a year or so ago she was told at her wellness center that she needs to do more to build up her bones and keep them strong. So mom uses weights a couple of times a week as well as balance training.
I too use weights to develop stronger bones, especially on my upper body. Along with cycling, walking, and the elliptical trainer at least five times a week, I use weights once or twice a week.
So it was with great interest that I read Jane Brody’s New York Times article, Building Up Bones , With a Little Bashing. This August 12, 2013, New York Times article makes for good reading whether you are an adult child or an elder because it explains why different kinds of exercise are important and also describes how ordinary daily tasks can help strengthen bones.
I’ve observed quite a few people, seniors and not quite seniors, who are diagnosed with arthritis and then gradually slow down and stop moving. They stop climbing stairs and taking walks. According to a recent study this may be precisely the wrong thing to do.
Check out the MedlinePlus arthritis page.
In 2000 the Department of Health and Human Services came up with a list of health goals, called Healthy People 2010 (note there are now 2020 goals as well). Health leaders believed these goals were achievable within ten years, not by significant scientific breakthroughs, but by using existing knowledge and redoubling efforts to apply it to the population at large. One of the goals focused on arthritis diagnosis, education, and treatment.
Most of us have experienced back aches of some type, and a fair number of our senior parents have back pain even more often than we do. For me, the only solution is to wait out a back ache and keep moving, even if it doesn’t feel so good to move (and it doesn’t). Most of us hurt, obsess, and use pillows — I do especially when I play the piano — wondering all the time why modern medicine cannot provide minimal medical care (a visit to a doc, a prescription, a quick co-pay, voila no pain) to solve the problem. Then one day the pain starts going away, at least a bit, though sometimes it doesn’t for a long time. While back pain can be, well — a pain — I do not want to even think about surgery.
Note: If I exercise and stretch regularly (4-5 times a week) my back pain is minimal. If I don’t exercise for a while, say for a week, the back pain returns at some point, and for the exercise and stretching to start working again takes some time. Check out this MedlinePlus tutorial about preventing back pain. When I am working hard to keep back aches at bay — which I should be all of the time — I use these exercises from the Mayo Clinic website in addition to walking and exercising on an elliptical trainer.