Four Steps to Better Joint Health
Your joints are truly amazing. Imagine walking with your best friend, bending to smell a flower or tossing a ball to your kids—without your flexible joints.
To help keep these moveable marvels healthy and free of diseases that can harm them—like arthritis and osteoporosis—practice a little joint TLC:
1. Keep moving. Exercise helps keep muscles around your joints strong and in good working order. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise—such as brisk walking or water aerobics—every week. And do some activities to strengthen your major muscle groups at least two days a week. If you play sports, protect your joints by wearing any recommended safety pads.
2. Lighten your load. Excess weight puts added stress on the joints of your knees, hips and feet. Every extra pound you gain puts four times the stress on your knees, for example. But losing even a small amount of weight may help the health of your joints. To keep pounds from piling on, practice portion control. Enjoy your favorite foods but in smaller amounts. Eating plenty of naturally calorie-light fruits and veggies, as part of a balanced diet, may also help. And don't forget to think about what you drink: Many beverages are high in calories. Cutting back on calorie-laden beverages can also help you lose weight.
3. Bone up on calcium and vitamin D. This mineral-vitamin duo helps build and maintain strong bones, reducing the risk of osteoporosis—which thins bones and makes them prone to fractures.
Sources of calcium include low-fat dairy products—such as milk, yogurt and cheese—along with foods such as broccoli, kale and canned salmon with edible bones. Some juices, cereals, breads, soymilk and bottled water have calcium added to them. Read the labels. They may also contain vitamin D.
Your skin makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. However, being in the sun also raises your risk of skin cancer. Ask your doctor if you should take a vitamin D supplement.
4. Butt out. If you smoke, your bones will thank you if you quit. You're at higher risk of fractures because you smoke.
Quitting is often easier said than done. But these tips may help:
• Talk with your health care provider about stop-smoking medicines, both prescription and over-the-counter. He or she can help you decide if one of them might work well for you.
• Pick a quit date, and let family and friends know so that they can help support your decision.
• Do a clean sweep of your home, car and work. Rid them of any cigarettes, matches, lighters or ashtrays.
Already had surgery and need a local physical therapy center for your recovery? Consider Carson Valley Medical Center Rehabilitative Services. Call 775.782.1519 today for more information.
Sources: Arthritis Foundation; National Institutes of Health
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