As we get older, almost all of us have aches and pains.
Your hips might hurt when you get out of a chair. Your knees may be stiff when you wake up in the morning. You may feel a twinge in your shoulders when you lift something.
All of these things are signs you have osteoarthritis.
In the back of your mind, you may wonder if and when it will turn into a full-blown disability that will mean you won’t be able to do the things you love…or even care for yourself and live independently. That may mean moving to a nursing home.
Those fears are not unfounded.
More than 30 million older Americans suffer from osteoarthritis. It is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.  
Mainstream medicine has two first-line treatments for osteoporosis: painkillers and joint replacement surgery.
Painkillers do nothing to stop arthritis from progressing. And they often have side effects. Joint replacement surgery requires a long, painful recovery. And many patients never regain their previous joint function.
But researchers have found a better way.
How Seniors Can Avoid the Leading Cause of Disability
Researchers at Northwestern University reviewed four years of health data covering 1,564 osteoarthritis patients over 50. All had stiffness and pain in their lower body joints (hips, knees, ankle, or feet).
The researchers painstakingly examined the diet and lifestyles of the subjects. They discovered that one thing separated those who maintained their ability to do ordinary daily tasks from those who became disabled. Scientists found that arthritis patients who did about an hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week—that’s less than 10 minutes a day—were far more likely to avoid major disability.
They maintained their ability to do things like dress themselves, climb stairs, or cross the street before a traffic light changed.
Brisk walking is one example of the sort of exercise researchers found was effective. But other activities such as gardening, yoga, cycling, and swimming also worked.
The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Exercise Is the Key to Managing Osteoarthritis
Professor Dorothy Dunlop was lead author on the study. She said she hopes the findings will inspire arthritis patients to exercise for at least 10 minutes a day.
If you are inactive, Professor Dunlop says you can start slowly until you reach an hour a week. “People can work up to that,” she said.
The evidence is clear: Physical activity is the number one way seniors can stave off the aches and pains of osteoarthritis.
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References https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5832048/  https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/osteoarthritis.htm  https://www.arthritis.org/Documents/Sections/About-Arthritis/arthritis-facts-stats-figures.pdf  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30902564