Improving Your Joint Health As You Age
Healthy joints are an important part of your life at any age,
Healthy joints are an important part of your life at any age, but the risks to your joints increase as you get older. By taking measures to stay active and healthy while you age, you improve your joint health and reduce the risks of complications.
Stay in Motion
Movement plays an important role in your overall health and well-being. It also impacts your joint health. According to WebMD, moving your body helps reduce the amount of stiffness you experience. Keep your body in motion throughout the day, even when engaging in sedentary activities like reading or watching television. Change your position, stretch out your muscles and get up to move regularly as a break.
Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases suggests that a healthy, well-balanced diet helps you maintain a healthy weight. The result of a nourishing diet is a lower risk of damage to your joints. Focus on eating fruits, vegetables and whole grains as the staple of your diet. Limit or avoid processed food with a high amount of trans fats, sugar or refined flour. When selecting protein sources, opt for lean cuts of beef, chicken, fish or vegetarian proteins. For example, eat beans and legumes rather than steak. As a general rule, try eating at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The Arthritis Foundation recommends eating oranges or drinking fresh orange juice on a regular basis, because vitamin C helps reduce the risk of osteoarthritis. Fruits and vegetables contain high levels of vitamins and minerals your body needs for good health and well-being.
WebMD suggests regular exercise as a part of maintaining a healthy weight, but you do not necessarily need intense or difficult exercises for your joint health. Opt for gentle exercises, like walking or swimming, to limit possible damage to your joints and body. When planning an exercise routine, start with a gentle warmup, then stretch. According to WebMD, the light warmup allows your muscles, joints and ligaments to loosen up. As a result, your body is more flexible when you start stretching for more rigorous exercises.
As a general rule, try stretching your muscles about three to four times per day. The regular stretching helps maintain your flexibility and mobility throughout the day. It also allows your joints and ligaments to stay loose. Flexing your muscles at different times of the day also helps reduce joint pain and improves your joint health. WebMD recommends flexing the muscles to strengthen them and provide better support to your joints. Even if you cannot engage in more rigorous activities or exercises, flexing the muscles and then gently stretching your muscles builds up strength in different areas of your body.
Alternate Standing and Sitting
According to the Arthritis Foundation, sitting down for extended periods or standing on your feet for the entire day is bad for your joints. Generally, you want to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. If you need to sit for a job or a specific activity, then stand up regularly to take breaks and move around. When your job or situation requires standing for an extended period, take a break every 15 to 20 minutes to sit down for a short time. The breaks and the change in your position support your joint health.
Identify Your Limits and Stay Within Them
Exercising and eating a nutritious diet is an important part of maintaining healthy joints at any age, but you also need to identify your personal limits. If you experience pain for 48 hours or more after an exercise routine, then cut back on your exercises the next time you work on strengthening your muscles. Pay particular attention to pain in your joints after a workout routine. You may need to focus on gentle or low-impact exercises to build your strength before adding more rigorous activities. Healthy joints require a healthy body. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and exercise routine keeps your joints and body strong as you age. It also allows you to stay active and enjoy your favorite activities.
Author bio: Susan Oja is President of Home and Hearth Caregivers. Home and Hearth Caregivers specializes in non-medical care for seniors in the Chicago area and is a division of Parker Cromwell HealthCare.