Old hippies might never die,but aging hips can slow them down.
Osteoarthritis, also known asdegenerative joint disease, usuallyhits the hips and knees, the largestweight–bearing joints in the body.Osteoarthritis is the most commonform of arthritis; it affects one in10 Albertans, and accounts forthe vast majority of hip and kneereplacements in the province.
While your genes play a big rolein hip health, you can take manysteps to keep your hips shimmyingthrough life.
To prevent hip problems, keepyour weight in check. “We knowthat obesity will contribute to thedevelopment and progression of kneeand hip osteoarthritis,” says sportmedicine physician Dr. Preston Wiley,director of the University of Calgary’sSport Medicine Centre.
Another step is exercise. Havinggood strength is critical in protectingthe joints. Regular exercise is goodfor bone, soft tissue and musclehealth. Getting out daily will benefitthe joints you use and the heart,blood vessels and everything else,Wiley says.
Any injury to any joint can startthe arthritis process. Falls can beespecially hard on the hips at anyage, but cause more than half ofall injuries to Canadians over age65. Four in 10 seniors who fall willfracture a hip.
To avoid falls, try exercises thatbuild strength in both body andmind.
“You need the mental ability to be
able to balance, which can be trained,
Activities such as yoga, walking and weightlifting and good old hula hooping strengthen the mind andbody, and help to prevent hip injuries and falls.
and you need muscle strength to
hold yourself up. . . . Weight-bearing
exercise is critical.”
Wiley suggests tai chi, yoga and
walking as daily exercises and
weightlifting a couple of times a
“What’s really important in
terms of the joints working well is
to keep them moving. It’s all about
mobility,” says Deborah Marshall,
associate professor at the University
of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine
and director at the Alberta Bone
and Joint Health Institute.
“Any kind of weight-bearingexercise will do wonders for yourhips and keep them healthy for alifetime,” adds Christopher Smith,project director at the Alberta Boneand Joint Health Institute.
— Jacqueline Louie
Visit myhealthalberta.ca to findexercises that build strength andimprove balance.