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Exercise for health and wellness at midlife and beyond: balancing benefits and risks.

As noted in research on frailty in women, regular exercise can limit age-related functional decline. However, physical activity has been implicated in the etiology of such musculoskeletal disorders as osteoarthritis. Proper exercise plans must strike a balance between promoting health and limiting the risk of injury. This article discusses age-related musculoskeletal changes and gender-specific conditions that may predispose midlife and older women to musculoskeletal injuries. The controversy about how physical activity may relate to osteoarthritis is discussed, along with common osteoarthritic-related spinal and appendicular conditions. Exercise prescription for women is briefly presented. The consistent message in the literature is that exercise is a safe and powerful tool to prevent and treat many medical, psychological, and musculoskeletal conditions in females at midlife and beyond.

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