The joints in our body are responsible for a variety of different movements that we perform in day-to-day activities. These movements can lead to a significant amount of wear and tear with passing years.
As we get older, it is a part of life for the joints to experience not only just a degree of damage but also a loss in flexibility and some pain as well. They may get swollen or inflamed and can even trouble us in our sleep. Some joints, particularly the knee joint, hips and the back joints, are all affected. The small joints in our hands and feet may not be spared either.
One of the primary reasons why our joints are affected by arthritis and pain is increasing body weight. The greater the body weight, the greater the degree of injury to the joints and a reduction in flexibility.
In fact, with every 1 kg increase in body weight, there is an excess of 4 kg of stress on the knee joints. So you can only imagine if your body weight went up by 5 kg that the excess stress on the knee joint would be up to 20 kg. This would undoubtedly cause some degree of injury.
It is therefore important to take every step possible to try and take the strain off the joints and maintain healthy joints. Here are some simple steps that you could follow to keep your joints flexible, healthy and moving freely for years to come.
- Lose Weight:
It is quite obvious that excessive body weight can worsen joint health. It is therefore essential that you lose weight in a safe and effective manner after taking advice from your doctor. Weight loss can be achieved through a healthy diet, regular cardiovascular exercise, yoga and meditation.
Keeping your diet low in carbohydrates and fats and increasing the protein intake, fresh fruit and vegetable intake can all contribute to weight loss. Many individuals have lost significant amounts of weight through diet alone and have found that the joint pains have also reduced side-by-side.
- Exercise Regularly
Avoid becoming a couch potato and make sure that you exercise on a regular basis. By exercising, you improve the amount of blood that flows to the joints and this can ensure speedy healing if any damage has occurred.
The ideal exercise that will help you lose weight is cardiovascular exercise. While yoga is also effective, clinical studies have found that combining yoga with a moderate intensity cardiovascular exercise can actually help you lose more weight in a shorter period of time.
Not only that, if you combine strength training and weight training (after taking advice from your doctor) with your cardiovascular exercise routine, then you may find you lose weight more effectively and also increase the strength of your muscles simultaneously. Don’t go all out on the weights you use. Instead, use light weights as these can strengthen muscles and the support it gives to the joints.
According to the American Heart Association, a good amount of exercise equates to 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise performed over a week. That’s around 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
However in India, we recommend a lot more than that given the diet and lifestyle that we follow. Moderate intensity aerobic exercises include brisk walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and certain sports such as tennis, basketball and badminton. These exercises must make you breathless after you have completed each session.
Make sure that you find the time to perform at least 45 minutes of exercise every day to keep your joints healthy.
- Maintain A Healthy Posture
In this current day and age, a large proportion of individuals are employed in a profession that requires them to sit in front of computers or at a desk for prolonged periods of time. As time passes, this can affect the joints in the back as many individuals assume slouched positions in the chair.
The first thing to do is to change your posture to one where you sit upright with your back straight and your feet firmly on the ground. Every 20 minutes or so, take a brief walk and stretch your legs and your back if possible. This will keep the joints nice and supple and prevent joint stiffness and pain.
If you participate in weight training activities at the gym, make sure you have a spotter that would help you maintain a good posture when lifting weights. Suddenly jerking and lifting weights can injure your spine and cause a great deal of pain. This could last for years to come and could worsen your quality of life.
- Eat A Healthy Diet
Our bones and joints are primarily composed of calcium. Make sure you have a diet that is rich in calcium on a regular basis. Foods that contain calcium include broccoli, daily products, lean meats, nuts and soya products. Seafood is also a great source of calcium.
Vitamin D is essential for the absorption of calcium into the bones. Though it is synthesised in the skin on exposure to sunlight, many of us in India have low vitamin D levels despite the abundance of sunlight around us. This is possibly related to the surrounding pollution we have.
Dietary sources of vitamin D include egg yolks and meat. Given that these are primarily non-vegetarian sources, many individuals who are vegetarian required oral supplementation in the form of tablets. This can be prescribed to you by your doctor.
Vitamin C has been shown to also keep your joints healthy. When you get a chance, make sure you munch down on vitamin C rich fruits such as oranges, pineapple and kiwi fruit.
- Make Life A Little Easier For Yourself
Previously, the lack of technology and gadgets would make it difficult to perform day-to-day household activities such as cleaning, scrubbing and even washing clothes. These activities can affect the health of your joints over a period of time.
Modern technology has fortunately made it not only easy but affordable to use machinery to perform your day-to-day chores. This can reduce small stresses and strains on the joints and keep them healthy for years to come.
Our joints are essential for performing our day-to-day activities. If they are unhealthy, they can become painful and swollen and can limit what we do in our daily lives. By following these simple steps, you can ensure the health of your joints and keep them smooth and efficient for many years to come.