Whatever your age, taking care of your bones and joints is crucial to maintaining your strength and mobility. Don’t let diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis slow you down or change your lifestyle.
Here are some ways to be good to your joints – whether you are healthy and want to stay that way, or are trying to keep a disease from progressing.
Get your calcium and Vitamin D
These nutrients go hand-in-hand for strong bones. Calcium builds bones and helps slow bone loss, and Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.
Extra weight puts stress on your knees. Losing as little as 11 pounds may provide relief for these joints and lower the risk of osteoarthritis by 50 percent.
Put away the high heels
High heels, especially three inches or higher, stress your feet and knees and may raise the risk of osteoarthritis.
Switch to low-impact exercise
Step aerobics, lunges, deep squats and jumping all can be hard on the knees. Instead, try biking, swimming or using an elliptical machine to reduce stress on your joints. And exercise regularly – it can actually reduce arthritis pain.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel, can help keep your joints healthy. In fact, studies show that omega-3s can reduce the pain and inflammation of stiff joints in people with arthritis. If you don’t eat fish regularly, try a daily fish oil supplement.
Brace your joints
Elbow, wrist or knee braces can relieve stress on joints, making activities such as sports more enjoyable. Braces can also prevent injury, or provide the support necessary for healing.
Smokers have a higher risk of fractures. Smoking also can reduce bone mass and leave you vulnerable to osteoporosis.
Lift some weights
Lifting weights helps protect joints by increasing bone density and building strong muscles.
Limit alcohol and soda
Drinking alcohol raises the risk of falling and bone loss, and heavy cola consumption has been linked to lower bone density.
See your doctor
If you have signs of arthritis or osteoporosis, see your doctor for a full examination. And even if your joints feel fine, see your doctor once a year for a routine checkup. It’s a good time to ask for tips on protecting your joints from daily wear and tear, and to go over medications, which can sometimes negatively affect bones.