From the time we get out of bed in the morning to the time we go to bed, our joints are working hard to give us freedom, flexibility, and movement. Joints occur where two bones meet. Without our joints, we would be completely immobilized. Like the shocks in a car or the ball bearings in a piece of equipment, our joints suffer wear and tear as we age. Our joints have a lot to do with our quality of life. So, how do we keep our joints healthy as we age? Let’s take a look at some practical ways to protect joint health.
Ditch the Cigarettes
Not only does smoking cigarettes cause a myriad of potentially life-threatening health problems, it hurts your joints too. Smoking reduces your bone mass, causing them to become weaker. Therefore, smokers are at greater risk for bone fractures and osteoporosis. To have healthy bones and joints, ditch the cigarettes!
Eat the Rainbow
Just like the rest of your body, your joints benefit from a healthy diet. The vitamins, minerals, and nutrients found in a wide array of colorful fruits and vegetables help keep your joints in good working order. For instance, green vegetables like broccoli, kale, and spinach slow the loss of cartilage and reduce bone loss.
Say Goodbye to High Heels
It turns out that our footwear can greatly impact our joints. Shoes with high heels of 3” cause seven times more stress to your feet and joints than a 1” shoe according to the Arthritis Foundation. High heels also add stress to your knees. If that’s not inspiration enough to put away the high heels, consider the fact that wearing them also increases your risk of developing osteoarthritis.
Excessive sitting isn’t just bad for your waistline; it’s bad for your joints too. Experts recommend not sitting for more than 30 minutes at a time. Add some stretching exercises, take a walk around the block, or simply stand up to work to incorporate movement. Standing desks are a great way to incorporate joint health into your daily life.
Shed Extra Pounds
Carrying around extra weight isn’t just uncomfortable; it puts extra strain on your joints. Every extra pound of weight puts four times the stress on your knees. The good news is that every pound you lose is a step in the right direction. Research shows that losing 11 pounds of excess weight slashes your risk of developing osteoarthritis in your knees by fifty-percent.
Exercise like an Expert
Exercising is recommended for a healthy lifestyle. To ensure your exercise routine protects your joints, try low impact activities like walking or swimming. Range of motion exercises and adding weights to your workout can increase flexibility, muscle strength, and joint health. Be sure to also stretch pre and post workout.
Your joints work hard to keep you mobile. Taking care of your joints will pay off with a better quality of life as you age. Be mindful of protecting your joints with proper lifting and exercising techniques and incorporate healthy habits in your diet and lifestyle. Doing so will keep your joints functional for years to come! If you have any questions about your health, contact your primary care provider.