The human body contains 360 joints that allow us to do everything from holding a pencil to hopping on one foot. As we age, wear and tear on these joints can make everyday activities difficult and even painful. Though it might seem counter-intuitive, to combat this decline in our bodies’ function, we must remain active. Here are 7 ways to help preserve your joint health.
1. Keep moving
Though our natural inclination is to try to protect our joints when we start to feel the effects of aging, inactivity leads to more problems. Our bodies are built to move, so prioritizing movement of the whole body every day will help your joints work effectively. Maintaining muscle, ligament, tendon, and bone health will also help your joints function the way they should.
2. Try low-impact activities
Though it might be tempting to train for a marathon as a way to stay fit, running can be hard on the joints. If you find your typical activities causing you pain and stiffness, try lower-impact exercises such as swimming, cycling, or rowing, to stay healthy, build muscle and cardio strength, and reduce the stress on your joints.
3. Strengthen your muscles
Actively working to strengthen all of your muscles, including those surrounding your affected joints, will help reduce pain. Stronger muscles stabilize joints and help them perform more effectively. They also improve your balance to help prevent falls. Make sure to follow the advice of a professional before beginning a new exercise routine.
4. Try range of motion exercises
Arthritis, or inflammation and stiffness in joints, can limit range of motion. Introducing range of motion exercises into your daily routine can help reduce the stiffness which could, in turn, limit your daily activities.
5. If you smoke, stop smoking
Smoking increases risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures that can damage the joints. Doctors have more smoking cessation aids now than ever before, so work with a professional if you need help quitting.
6. Preserve your bone strength
Making sure you consume adequate amounts of calcium and Vitamin D to preserve your bone strength is an essential step in maintaining joint health. Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium. Exercise and strength training also preserve bone by putting it under stress and helping it rebuild. Make sure to see your doctor regularly and have them check out your bone health to see if osteoporosis medications are indicated for you.
7. Eat an anti-inflammatory diet
Controlling inflammation in the body is one way to maintain joint health. Foods high in fat and sugar tend to increase inflammation in the body, but there are many delicious, natural foods that contain anti-inflammatory properties such as tomatoes, turmeric, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and fatty fish. Most berries also contain anti-inflammatory antioxidants. Aronia berries have higher antioxidant properties than most other foods, which make them cardioprotective, and also great for joint health.