What Active Seniors Need to Know About Joint Health

By on August 28, 2016

By Jessica Thiefels−

Bone and joint health increases in childhood, but as you age you steadily lose muscle and bone mass. This can lead to painful issues with your joints, such as arthritis, osteoarthritis or osteoporosis.

In fact, the almost half of adults 65 years of age and older have arthritis, according to Arthritis.org. If you have heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes, the likelihood of developing of arthritis or other joint-related issues increases.

Luckily, this doesn’t have to be a reality for you; calcium, vitamin D, diet and exercise are the cornerstones of good bone and joint health, and all are within your ability to improve upon or increase.

Learn more about how to improve your joint health with diet and exercise to reduce your chances of developing joint pain or chronic conditions.

Regular Exercise is Good

Regular exercise slows the loss of muscle mass, strengthens bones, and can actually reduce joint and muscle pain. Mobility and balance are also improved with exercise, which helps reduce falls or risks of serious injury. The best part: people are learning the value of exercise for aging; the over 55 American population is the fastest-growing age group among gyms members, according to Immersion Active.

Now comes what everyone wants to hear: physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous, in fact, moderate-intensity activity is best and low-intensity activity is better than nothing. Long gone are your days of 2-hour gym sessions or 10-mile runs—unless you still want to do that, of course.

The key is to find something you enjoy and do it for 30 minutes a day. This could mean finding fun organized classes at your local gym or extending your daily walk around the block to be 30 minutes rather than 15 or 20.

While it’s important to focus on balance, mobility and strength, you also want to work toward maintaining a healthy weight. Extra weight puts more stress on your joints. You can do this with physical activity and diet.

Diet is Important

Diet is important when maintaining joint health for a number of reasons. First, in order to maximize physical activity, you have to properly fuel your body for the work it’s doing. While preparation for exercise is essential, the significance of recovery is often overlooked; this allows your body to heal properly, which in turn allows your muscles to grow.

Focus on eating snacks that provide energy, such as nuts, granola or yogurt and fruit. At mealtime cook up complex carbohydrates and low-fat protein—think chicken and brown rice; you may even already be doing this.

Your diet and the nutrients you get can have a direct positive or negative impact on joint health as well. Nutrient-packed foods with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties can help fight pain, stiffness and swelling. For example, walnuts and cold-water fish (high in Omega-3’s) help reduce chronic inflammation.

To improve joint health, add these foods to your regular diet:

  • Berries
  • Nuts
  • Orange vegetables
  • Basil
  • Red apple
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Oily fish (salmon)
  • Dark leafy greens

Remember It’s Never Too Late to Start

It’s easy to slip into the thought process of, “I’ve been fine for this long…” or “I’m too old to start exercising now!” However, neither of those statements will help you manage what’s inevitable: weakening joints. In fact, lack of physical activity can make chronic conditions affecting muscles, joints or bones worse and more difficult to live with.

As of 2014, more than 1 million Americans aged 55 and up lift weights twice a week and 2.7 million belong to a health club, according to the same Immersion Active report. Jump on the healthy bandwagon by finding a friend who works out, has a gym membership, or likes to be active with hikes and walks. This will give you the motivation you need to get started.

If you already suffer from joint pain, check with your doctor before engaging in any strenuous activity. Medical research shows that exercise is safe and beneficial for people with arthritis, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, so you’ll likely be good to go.

 

Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than ten years and is currently a lifestyle blogger. She owns a small fitness business, Honest Body Fitness, and is using her expertise to blog about the benefits of diet and exercise. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07.

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What Active Seniors Need to Know About Joint Health