Did you know September is healthy aging month? Healthy Aging Month is celebrated annually, bringing awareness to the positive aspects of growing older. However, the aging process can also bring on conditions affecting your body, including changes to your muscles, joints and bones.
As you age, you may begin to feel pain and discomfort in your joints. Cartilage (smooth tissue) and a lubricant (synovial fluid) cushion joints so that bones do not rub together. Over time, cartilage breaks down and joints can become arthritic and inflamed. If your joints are not taken care of they can become damaged, which could lead to arthritis.
Susan Judge Burns, Nurse Practitioner at NEBH offers three tips to keep your joints healthy.
Maintain a healthy weight
Weight can play an important role on joint health. When a person is even slightly overweight, it can add stress to their joints, especially their weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. Every pound of weight gained puts an extra 3-5 pounds of pressure on knee joints. Losing weight can diminish pain and restore function in joints, especially when paired with exercise and a healthy diet.
To help maintain a healthy weight try exercising. Not moving and staying sedentary can increase stiffness in your joints, so make sure to not to sit for long periods of time. If you have a desk job, try to get up from your desk and take a walk.
Exercises such as weight training help build muscle which protects joints. If you don’t have enough muscle your joints can become painful as they support your body weight. Activities to strengthen your core can also become a part of your exercise routine. A strong core can help you maintain balance preventing joint damaging injuries such as falls.
Retain a healthy diet
By practicing good nutrition you can help protect your bones and build muscle. A diet full of calcium is good for bone health. Try drinking milk and eating foods such as yogurt or broccoli. Eating protein is important to help maintain muscle. Try a variety of meats, nuts, beans or soy products. In addition, it is essential that you get enough vitamin D, as it improves your body’s ability to absorb calcium. One natural way many people get an adequate amount of vitamin D is from sunlight. Additionally, milk, swordfish, salmon, and tuna are good sources of vitamin D.
Healthy Aging Month also recognizes and encourages taking responsibility for your health. By being proactive and taking care of your joints you can keep them healthy and avoid injuries.