03/04/2015 01:48 EST | Updated 05/03/2015 05:59 EDT

Hip surgery best avoided by sitting less, says specialist

A Vancouver doctor who specializes in hip health says prolonged sitting and lack of exercise can be detrimental for hips and other joints.

Wait times for hip replacement surgeries continue to worsen in BC compared to the rest of the country.

Of the major Canadian provinces, B.C. has the longest wait times — twice as long as Ontario, according to a CBC Go Public investigation.

Dr. Maureen Ashe, a researcher at theCentre for Hip Health and Mobility in Vancouver, says there are things people can do to prepare their hips for life's bumps and falls.

"Mid-life is a good time to think about how you will enter into older age," says Ashe.

Her biggest advice for hip health is to sit less and incorporate moderate activity throughout the day.

Ashe says the centre conducted qualitative research with patients who had recovered well from a hip fracture.

The study revealed three main pieces of advice:


Move more
Exercise doesn't have to be about taking on a big challenge right away. Start by trying to just sit less.


Seek support
Recognize that there are other people in your community who could encourage you to get exercise.


Put your progress in perspective
Set realistic goals and try not to do too much too soon. Also, monitor how far you've come.

Ashe said she encourages her patients to take on more exercise by small steps, like doing balance exercises at the kitchen counter.

"What we're hoping to do with our work is to use that same message of everyday activity to get people to taking on just a little bit more so we can avoid that decline or that spiral of mobility challenges," says Ashe.