FRIDAY, Oct. 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Older women who get even light exercise, like a daily walk, may lower their risk of suffering a broken hip, a large study suggests.
A number of studies have linked regular exercise to a lower risk of hip fracture — a potentially disabling or even fatal injury for older adults. Each year, more than 300,000 people in the United States aged 65 or older are hospitalized for a broken hip, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The new study, of more than 77,000 older U.S. women, took a deeper look at the types of exercise that are related to the risk of hip fracture and other bone breaks.
The researchers found that, on average, women who regularly exercised at any intensity — from walking, to doing yard work, to jogging — had a lower risk of hip fracture over 14 years, compared to inactive women.
It all suggests that even light activity is enough to curb the risk of these serious injuries, said study leader Michael LaMonte, a research associate professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
“We were happy to see a strong relationship between walking and lower hip fracture risk,” he said. “As we get older, we naturally do less-strenuous physical activity. This suggests that to lower your risk of hip fracture, you don’t need to do anything fancy. It can be as simple as walking.”
The findings “strongly support” longstanding recommendations for people to fit physical activity into their daily routine, according to Dr. Richard Bockman.
“Get out there and walk,” said Bockman, chief of the endocrine service at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.
Lower-impact activities do not have a big effect on bone density. But Bockman, who was not involved in the study, said that while bone density matters in hip fracture risk, other factors are also involved. They include muscle strength in the lower body, balance and agility, since broken hips are almost always the result of a fall.
The findings, published online Oct. 25 in JAMA Network Open, come from the Women’s Health Initiative — a study begun in the 1990s at 40 U.S. medical centers. It involved more than 77,000 women who were between the ages of 50 and 79 when they enrolled.
At the outset, the women reported on their usual physical activities, among other lifestyle factors.
Over an average of 14 years, one-third of the women suffered a bone fracture. When it came to hip fractures, women who’d reported higher amounts of physical activity at the study’s start typically had a lower risk.
For example, women who regularly got moderate to vigorous exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging, had a 12% lower risk of hip fracture than those who were less active. But there was also a link between “mild activity” — like slow dancing, bowling or golfing — and lower hip fracture risk. And the more often women walked, at any speed, the lower their risk of a broken hip.
The news wasn’t all good: Women who exercised at moderate to vigorous intensities had a relatively higher risk of a wrist or forearm fracture, compared to less-active women.
It’s not clear why, but LaMonte offered a guess: When women with more “functional ability” do fall, they may be more likely to stretch out an arm to break the fall, which is how wrist and forearm fractures often happen.
One question the study cannot address, LaMonte said, is whether starting exercise at an older age reduces hip fracture risk. Study participants who were physically active may have been active their whole lives.
But, he said, it is clear that “sitting less and moving more” is key in older adults’ overall health, with benefits such as better control of blood pressure and diabetes, and a lower risk of heart disease.
Besides exercise, older adults can take other steps to reduce their hip fracture risk, LaMonte noted. They include getting bone mass measurements as recommended by your doctor, and following a healthy diet with adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
SOURCES: Michael LaMonte, Ph.D., M.P.H., research associate professor of epidemiology and environmental health, State University of New York at Buffalo; Richard Bockman, M.D., Ph.D., chief of endocrine service, Hospital for Special Surgery, and professor of medicine, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City; Oct. 25, 2019, JAMA Network Open, online
THURSDAY, April 25, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Stroke survivors often face limited mobility, which quadruples their odds of osteoporosis, broken bones and falls. But most are never screened for these problems, new research reveals.
“Our study adds to previous research that found despite an increased risk, only a small number of people who have recently had a stroke are tested and treated for osteoporosis,” said lead author Dr. Moira Kapral. She is director of general internal medicine at the University of Toronto.
Impaired mobility can result in bone mineral density decline, which is associated with osteoporosis. The condition weakens bones and increases risk of fractures.
In this study, researchers looked at more than 16,500 Canadian stroke survivors, aged 65 and older, from Ontario. Of these patients, only 5% had undergone bone mineral density testing; 15.5% had been prescribed medications for osteoporosis within the year after their stroke, and only a small percentage were prescribed medications for osteoporosis for the first time.
Patients most likely to have bone mineral density testing tended to be younger, female and to have had low-trauma fractures in the year after their stroke.
Patients were more likely to be prescribed medications for osteoporosis after their stroke if they were female, already had the bone-thinning disease, had previously broken bones, had previous bone mineral density testing, or had fallen or broke bones after their stroke.
The study was published April 25 in the journal Stroke.
“This study offers more evidence that there is a missed opportunity to identify people with stroke at increased risk of fractures, and to initiate treatment to prevent bone loss and fractures,” Kapral said in a journal news release.
Less than one-third of older U.S. women are screened for osteoporosis. The maximum treatment rate for some high-risk patients is about 30%, the researchers pointed out.
The U.S. Office on Women’s Health has more about osteoporosis.
THURSDAY, April 11, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Are you neglecting or even unaware of the muscles in your back? If so, you’re putting yourself at risk.
The trapezius is the diamond-shaped muscle that runs from neck to middle back and from shoulder to shoulder across the back. The latissimus dorsi — or “lats” — are the large back muscles that run from either side of the spine to your waist.
Here are two strength-training exercises that will help you develop these muscles for better upper body fitness.
Important: Start with a weight that allows you to complete at least eight reps with proper form, perhaps as low as 2-pound dumbbells. Build up to 10 to 15 reps for one complete set, and progress from one to three complete sets before increasing the weight. Never jerk the weights — controlled, steady movement is what brings results.
Standing dumbbell rows target the trapezius muscles as well as the upper arms and shoulders. Stand straight, feet shoulder-width apart, with a weight in each hand. Your elbows should be slightly bent, the dumbbells touching the fronts of your thighs, palms facing your body. As you exhale, use a slow, controlled movement to lift the weights straight up by bending the elbows up and out to bring the weights to shoulder level. Hold for a second, then inhale as you lower your arms to the starting position. Repeat.
Bent-over one-arm rows target the lats as well as the upper arms and shoulders. To work the right side first, stand to the right side of a bench. Place your left knee and left hand on it for support. Your back should be nearly parallel to the floor. Hold a dumbbell in your right hand, palm facing inward. Using only your upper arm, bend at the elbow to lift the dumbbell straight up to your waist as you exhale. Hold for a second and then lower it with control as you inhale. Complete reps, then switch sides and repeat.
You can also do bent-over rows using both arms at once. Stand with feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold a dumbbell in each hand and, bending from the waist, bring your back to nearly parallel with the floor. Keeping arms close to your sides, bend the elbows to lift the weights, bringing them up to waist level. Hold for a second and then lower the weights with control as you inhale. Repeat.
The American Council on Exercise has more on exercises targeting the back muscles.
TUESDAY, Feb. 26, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Walking the golf course instead of riding in a cart offers heart health benefits that may outweigh potential joint harm for golfers with knee osteoarthritis, a new small study reports.
The study included 10 golfers with knee osteoarthritis who played two 18-hole rounds of golf. They walked the course in one round and used a golf cart in the other round.
Walking did increase the golfers’ knee inflammation, but they also got significant cardiovascular benefits, according to the researchers.
“The impetus for the study stemmed from the fact that the majority of rounds of golf in the United States are now played with a golf cart, which has been suggested to affect the health benefits of the sport. We wanted to measure the effect of this in individuals with knee osteoarthritis,” said study co-author Dr. Prakash Jayabalan. He is a clinician-scientist in sports medicine at AbilityLab, in Chicago.
More than 17 million people play golf in the United States each year. In nearly 70 percent of the rounds, golfers ride in motorized carts to travel between holes. Many golfers with knee arthritis may avoid walking because they think doing so may worsen their joint pain and cartilage degradation.
Osteoarthritis is often described as being caused by wear-and-tear on the joints, and it is a leading cause of disability for Americans aged 50 and older.
However, even though walking may increase inflammation in golfers with knee osteoarthritis, the researchers said there is evidence of cartilage remodeling effects in knees whether golfers walk or ride in a cart.
Golfers should consider their individual symptoms and follow their doctor’s advice, the study authors said in a news release from the Association of Academic Physiatrists.
“Walking exercise is commonly advocated for individuals with knee osteoarthritis. Our study suggests that golf may be a good prescription of walking exercise, particularly if they walk the course, as they get more health benefits,” said Jayabalan, who is also an assistant professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
The study included people who played golf regularly, so Jayabalan said the next step would be to evaluate golf as an exercise intervention for occasional golfers.
The report was presented Thursday at the annual meeting of the Association of Academic Physiatrists, in Puerto Rico. The research should be considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.
The U.S. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has more on osteoarthritis.
SOURCE: Association of Academic Physiatrists, news release, Feb. 21, 2019
If you suffer from knee arthritis and worry that walking will only worsen your damaged joint, a new study suggests you put your fears aside, slip on some sneakers, and take a brief but brisk walk.
The researchers estimated that if older adults with the condition added just 5 minutes of brisk walking to their day, their odds of needing knee replacement surgery could dip by 16 percent.
On the other hand, light walking — akin to a “stroll” — may have no impact, said lead researcher Hiral Master, a Ph.D. candidate in biomechanics and movement sciences at the University of Delaware.
Her team reached those conclusions by digging into data from over 1,800 older adults with knee arthritis who wore portable devices that tracked their walking intensities for at least four days.
Over the next five years, 6 percent of the participants had total knee replacement surgery.
The researchers used the data on people’s walking habits to examine the effects of replacing “non-walking” time with time spent walking at different intensities. The findings showed that substituting just 5 minutes of down time with moderate-to-high intensity walking was linked to a 16 percent decline in the odds of needing knee replacement surgery.
The study authors defined “moderate-to-high” intensity as more than 100 steps per minute. In laymen’s terms, Master said, that’s a “brisk” walk that gets your heart rate up — not a stroll around the block.
The findings were presented Saturday at the American College of Rheumatology’s annual meeting, in Chicago. Such research should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
Knee osteoarthritis develops when the cartilage cushioning the joint gradually breaks down, which can eventually result in bone scraping on bone.
The condition is common among middle-aged and older Americans. According to the Arthritis Foundation, up to 13.5 percent of men and 19 percent of women aged 45 and older have knee arthritis that’s severe enough to cause pain and other symptoms.
And those patients often wonder whether walking is good or bad for their arthritic joints, said Dr. Paul Sufka, a rheumatologist at the University of Minnesota, in Minneapolis.
“They often ask whether they should minimize their activity, keep doing what they’re doing, or intensify,” said Sufka, who is also with the American College of Rheumatology’s communications committee.
“The general advice we give to patients is to stay active,” Sufka said. But, he added, the truth is there is too little evidence to give patients definitive recommendations.
The new findings do not prove that brisk walking directly lowers the risk of needing knee replacement surgery, Sufka noted.
But, “this gives us some useful information to bring to the discussion,” he added.
Overall, Sufka said, research does suggest it’s better for people with knee arthritis to be active rather than sedentary. And that’s not just for the sake of their knees. Physical activity has a range of health benefits, including lower risks of heart attack and stroke.
Master agreed, and pointed out that exercise can help arthritis patients’ mental well-being, as well as physical.
And it doesn’t take a huge lifestyle change, she explained. The new findings suggest people can benefit from adding a short, brisk walk to their day.
In fact, Sufka said, such incremental shifts may be best.
“The best exercise program is the one you can actually stick with,” he said. “If right now, you’re walking around the block every day, what would be 5 percent or 10 percent more than that? You can gradually build from where you are.”
And what if walking is painful? That’s a tricky question, Sufka acknowledged. Some patients might benefit from physical therapy rather than only exercising on their own, he said.
Beyond aerobic exercise like walking, strengthening exercises for the leg muscles supporting the knees can also be helpful, he suggested.
SOURCES: Hiral Master, P.T., M.P.H., Ph.D. candidate, biomechanics and movement sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, Del.; Paul Sufka, M.D., assistant residency director, internal medicine residency program, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and member, communications and marketing committee, American College of Rheumatology; Oct. 20, 2018 presentation, American College of Rheumatology annual meeting, Chicago
Shoulder pain is a common symptom for athletes and office workers alike. These simple exercises can improve flexibility and prevent future injury.
The shoulder’s complex structure makes it susceptible to injury, especially from one-too-many many weightlifting exercises. Whatever the cause of your pain or discomfort, the healing process often involves physical therapy to stretch and strengthen the surrounding muscles.
Be sure to consult a doctor before beginning a physical therapy regimen, as shoulder pain can be a symptom of a variety of conditions, like impingement or a rotator cuff tear. The following exercises offer gentle stretching and light conditioning to get you on the road to recovery.
1. PENDULUM EXERCISE
The pendulum exercise can help you recover from a shoulder injury, as it encourages blood flow and develops your range of motion. To get started, stand near a table with your feet slightly more than shoulder width apart. Place the hand of your uninjured arm on the table, then bend over and let your injured arm dangle toward the floor. Shift your body weight in order to create movement in the arm: forward and back, side to side, or in a small circle. Do not engage your shoulder muscles, but let the arm swing freely.
Start with 30 seconds of motion, a few times per day. Over the next few weeks you can gradually increase to several minutes of movement. You can also do a variation of this exercise on a bed if leaning over is hard on your back or neck, though you may need someone else to set your arm in motion. As your recovery progresses, you may be able to use light dumbbells to further stretch the shoulder — but be careful not to engage the muscles and risk re-injury.
This exercise targets the rotator cuff, building strength in the scapula and rhomboids to prevent and relieve pain. It can also help strengthen your back and improve your posture.
Stand with your feet below your shoulders, core engaged and knees at a slight angle. With a light dumbbell in each hand, palms inward, raise your arms out in front of you in a broad V shape. Then slowly draw your shoulder blades together. Be careful not to raise your arms above your shoulders. Hold this position momentarily, then lower. Repeat about ten times, for three sets.
3. EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL SHOULDER ROTATION
The rotator cuff muscles that allow for internal rotation are the supraspinatus and subscapularis. These let you draw your arm forward, with your palm facing in, and are commonly used in gym exercises and everyday life. Overuse causes these muscles to tighten, often leading to pain.
To begin strengthening the rotator cuff, you can practice a simple towel stretch. Grasp a towel or strap with your right hand and drape it over your right shoulder so it hangs down your back. Your right hand should be level with the back of your head, or lower toward the back of your neck if it’s comfortable. Turn your left arm behind your lower back with your palm facing behind you as you raise your left hand to meet and grasp the bottom end of the towel. Don’t force the stretch, but spend 15 to 30 seconds just at your point of flexibility. Try three repetitions on each side, and over time you will be able to bring your hands closer together at your back.
The external rotator muscles in the rotator cuff are the infraspinatus and teres minor. These typically get less training, which can create an imbalance and eventually lead to pain. To strengthen these muscles, use only one- or two-pound weights until you are able to easily add more, one pound at a time. Lie on your side, with your upper arm at a 90-degree angle, elbow against your side. Slowly rotate your forearm out and up, to your side, drawing your shoulder blades together until your palm faces forward. Hold for two seconds, then lower down. Repeat 10 times on each side.
4. SHOULDER RETRACTIONS
There are a number of exercises that involve shoulder retraction, and they all aim to correct a slumped posture. If your shoulder blades, or scapulae, are constantly hunched forward, it can affect how you use your shoulder joint, lift your arms, and stand. Poor posture can even affect the blood flow and nerves in your arms and hands, and make it harder to breathe by collapsing your chest. You should perform shoulder retraction stretches as much as possible to counteract these effects, and build up the muscles to help prevent shoulder pain.
To begin this exercise, stand straight, arms at your sides, with your shoulders relaxed. Pull your shoulder blades down and back, without arching your back. Hold this for 5-10 breaths, and repeat 3-5 times.
For a more targeted exercise, lie facedown on a mat, resting your forehead on a towel. Hold your arms straight out at your sides, palms down. Use your shoulder blades to lift your arms off the floor, holding this position for a few breaths.
EXERCISES TO AVOID
As you perform these exercises, keep in mind that shoulder pain can have many underlying causes, and without a doctor’s diagnosis you risk exacerbating the issue. Take your time when introducing new exercises into your routine to give your body time to adjust. To avoid further damage, be sure to start with no weight or very light weights for any strengthening activities.
You should also avoid exercises that are counterproductive to the healing process. Stay away from common gym exercises like dips, upright rows, overhead presses, and lat pull downs done behind the neck, which can put stress on the neck and shoulders.
If you’re suffering from shoulder pain, you may want to schedule an appointment with an orthopedic specialist. At CompOrtho, specialists will help identify any underlying conditions that may be causing you discomfort.