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What is good musculoskeletal health?

It provides support and stability to move about in our daily life, and if any components start to fail, it has a serious knock-on effect

Good musculoskeletal health is an important component of maintaining a person’s functional abilities throughout their life course and is fundamental to carrying out the daily activities for living and healthy ageing.

It supports us with functional mobility and dexterity, balance and co-ordination, and contributes to muscular strength and endurance — all essential for work.

Good musculoskeletal (MSK) health also enables us to stay physically and mentally fit and reduce the occurrence of other health problems, such as obesity.

Maintaining good musculoskeletal health

When the musculoskeletal system is healthy, it provides support and stability and allows us to move about in our daily life. But if any of these components start to fail, this can have a serious knock-on effect for the whole system.

It is therefore vital to invest in enhancing education, raising awareness activities and opportunities to engage in understanding good MSK health and how to reduce the risks of developing an MSK problem.

Action should be taken across the life course cycle, aimed at the different age groups.

Healthy bone and muscle development is maintained if a healthy diet is coupled with regular physical activity into and throughout adolescence and in our twenties — see Physical activity guidelines: UK Chief Medical Officers’ report.

Bone development in childhood

Physical activity during childhood and adolescence is critical for developing lifelong good MSK health and the associated health and wellbeing benefits. As a child grows, bone is formed and then constantly reshaped to keep its function.

In the process of normal growth, much more bone is made than removed, allowing the skeleton to grow in size and density. As a result, up to 90% of peak bone mass is acquired in girls by age 18, and in boys by age 20, making childhood the absolute best time to invest in bone health through appropriate nutrition and physical activity.

This is particularly significant given that physical activity in childhood leads to residual benefits in bone density and bone strength in adulthood, protecting individuals from low bone density and loss of physical function during later life.

Adulthood

The Chief Medical Officers (CMO) report highlights the evidence for continued physical activity throughout adulthood for people to have the physical capacity for all the activities they want and need to do, including work.

Healthy bones and muscles, along with co-ordination, balance and muscular endurance, reduce the risk of MSK problems in our lives.

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Musculoskeletal Health: A Public Health Approach

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