How can I delay the need for joint replacement?

Jane mugshot for JQAI suffered some bad injur­ies 40 years ago and have been toldI will need knee and hip replace­ments even­tu­ally. What would be a good fit­ness régime to help post­pone the sur­gery for as long as pos­sible? At 61, des­pite stay­ing act­ive and play­ing golf, my leg muscles are los­ing bulk.

It’s time to join the gym and start doing tar­geted workouts along­side the golf. It sounds as though your old injur­ies have left you vul­ner­able to osteoarth­ritis, so your first pri­or­ity will be to build up strong mus­cu­lar sup­port and pro­tec­tion for your hip and knee joints. Beyond this, a boost to your heart and lung fit­ness will improve your energy levels. And if you intend to main­tain your golf han­di­cap for another 25 years, you should add in some work to keep your pel­vis, hips, back and shoulders supple and strong.

It is nor­mal to lose muscle strength and power as we age. However it is also quite pos­sible to reverse loss of muscle bulk and dra­mat­ic­ally cheat the age­ing pro­cess if you take a dis­cip­lined approach to work­ing out. I am sug­gest­ing the gym because you need to do weight-​training, tar­get­ing cer­tain muscle groups, and the machines and other equip­ment in the gym will make this easier to do. If you’re new to gyms, you’ll be given at least one “induc­tion” ses­sion: make sure you ask at the out­set whether your instructor is qual­i­fied to train older adults. They must hold a REPS Level 3 cer­ti­fic­ate. Don’t be too polite to ask for an altern­at­ive instructor if you are at all unhappy.

Your gym pro­gramme needs to con­cen­trate on exer­cises for your but­tocks, hips, front and back of thighs, includ­ing some spe­cific “leg exten­sion” exer­cises to build up your knee muscles. Several weights machines tackle these areas, but you may also find your­self doing squats (with or without weights) and lunges, both of which are excel­lent for all the rel­ev­ant muscles.

Include car­di­ovas­cu­lar train­ing in your workout, build­ing up to 20 minutes per ses­sion. Your best bet may be the tread­mill, set for a brisk uphill “power walk”. After a few months another tough but use­ful option could be the step­per. Aim to do three gym ses­sions a week (leav­ing 48 hours between each visit).

Don’t over­look the need to com­bat the increas­ing stiff­ness that comes with age­ing. Again, if you have joint prob­lems, you are likely to feel achy and stiff, espe­cially in the morn­ings. Mobility and stretch­ing should be slot­ted into your daily routine along with brush­ing your teeth. You have an added incent­ive to do this, as your golf demands that you keep your back strong and supple. Ask your instructor to set you pel­vic, shoulder and back mobil­ity and stretch­ing exer­cises, plus con­di­tion­ing for all your stom­ach muscles.

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