With more than 3 million cases of arthritis in the US every year, arthritis is a common ailment for a lot of people. There are ways to improve your joint health and improve your overall wellness, however, so you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
1. Eat a Healthy Diet
Vitamin D and calcium go together when it comes to healthy joints. Low calcium in the body can decrease the density in your bones lead to an increased risk of fractures. Vitamin D is required for the body to absorb calcium. You can increase your vitamin D through fatty fish, cheese, egg yolks. Calcium is available in dairy, almonds, salmon and some leafy greens. You can also increase your vitamin D through sun exposure, and both are readily available in fortified foods.
There are many foods containing antioxidants that can help decrease inflammation as well. Adding foods such as berries, fatty fish, avocados, peppers, green tea and dark chocolate into a healthy diet can all help with inflammation.
Tumeric, a spice used in many Indian foods, also has anti-inflammatory properties that can improve your joint health.
Studies have also shown that a Mediterranean style diet has been linked to lower levels of inflammatory markers in their blood. This type of diet includes tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil and is often not high processed.
2. Stick to Low Impact Activities
High impact activities such as running, contact sports, plyometrics and powerlifting all lead to additional stress on the weight bearing joints. To reduce the risk of the break down of your joints stick to low impact activities such as walking, golf, swimming, biking, elliptical and rowing.
3. Maintain a Healthy Weight
To keep joints healthy, it is important to be at an ideal weight. According to the Arthritis Foundation, every pound of excess weight carries an extra 4 pounds of stress on the joints. The extra weight can lead to premature damage to the joints from simple daily activities which are normally good for the body like walking.
There is also an increase in inflammation in the body from being overweight. Chemicals released from fat stimulate inflammation and lead to osteoarthritis therefore heightening the risk of joint damage.
4. Exercise Regularly
Exercise consisting of strength training and stretching can help improve the stability and range of motion of your joints. Light resistance programs can safely strengthen the muscles around the joint, reducing pain and increasing stability. Joints take on more stress when lifting heavy weights, therefore they should be avoided.
Increasing your flexibility through stretching can keep your joints functioning within a normal range of motion and decrease stiffness. Whether it is incorporating stretches into a daily fitness routine or participating in yoga or pilates, you will help your joints function with better mobility.
As a general goal, the CDC recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week. If you don’t have time for 30 minutes, you can do shorter bouts of exercise throughout the day.
5. Listen to Your Body
It is important to pay attention to your body when it is in pain or you are experiencing fatigue. If you are experiencing these symptoms you may be overdoing an activity that can damage your joint health.
It may be beneficial to use a cane or other assistive device to take the pressure off your joints, as well as take breaks from activity when necessary.
If you are concerned with any type of joint pain you are experiencing, Dr. Silver can evaluate your joint health and get you on a plan for maintaining your lifestyle.