Staying active as you get older requires mobile, pain-free knees, shoulders and other joints. Here are five ways you can enjoy greater joint health as you age.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Carrying too many pounds puts tremendous stress on kneecartilage, a tough, elastic substance that lines the joint and provides cushioning and support; this leaves cartilage prone to trauma. Excess weight also speeds the rate at whichosteoarthritis (OA), the wear-and-tear kind, progresses.†
If you weigh more than you should, adopting a healthy diet can help you get down to a reasonable weight for your height and age. Speak to your practitioner or adietitian to find an eating plan that works for you, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.
Feast on Fish
Salmon, sardines, mackerel: These types of fish should be on your menu at least once a week because they all contain joint-friendly omega-3 fats.*
When it comes to salmon, look for wild-caught versus farmed, either fresh or flash-frozen (a quick-freeze process that preserves flavor and nutrition). Mackerel is best eaten either absolutely fresh, flash-frozen or canned in oil; the same is true for sardines. When buying canned fish, check that it isn’t loaded with sodium.
Engage in Low-Impact Exercise
Exercise can help with weight control...but it isn’t going to help much if the workout itself is putting pressure on your joints.
When it comes to fat burning and cardiovascular health, stick with low-impact activities, especially as you get older. Swimming, bicycling (including spin classes) and elliptical training all provide exercise that helps protect your joints, as does walking (in properly fitted shoes).
Strengthen Your Muscles
Just as important as keeping your weight steady is maintaining muscular strength: Strong muscles help you control movements properly, which keeps stress off your joints.
Muscle strength is particularly important when it comes to protecting your knees. The key leg muscles include the largequadriceps muscle in the front of the thigh, thehamstringthat runs from the hip to the knee in the back and thegastrocnemius, or main calf muscle.
As we explain here, step-ups, straight-leg lifts, hamstring curls, wall squats and calf raises all help to strengthen your legs. Avoid any motion that bends the knee more than 90 degrees, which puts excessive pressure on the cartilage.
Maintain Range of Motion
Exercise also helps your joints retain full range of motion, which keeps them flexible and mobile. Range-of-motion exercises include:
- For your neck: tilting your head forward and back then side to side; turning your head from side to side
- For your shoulders: swinging your arms up and down; rolling your shoulders forward and back
- For your wrists and ankles: bending them up and down; rotating them in one direction, then the other
- For your elbows: holding your arms by your sides and then bending each elbow until your fingertips touch your chest
- For your hips and knees: lying on your back and pulling one knee and then the other towards your chest; leg lifts; turning your feet out, then in
†The information provided is not an endorsement of any product, and is intended for educational purposes only. NaturesPlus does not provide medical advice and does not offer diagnosis of any conditions. Current research on this topic is not conclusive and further research may be needed in order to prove the benefits described.
The conditions and symptoms described may be indicative of serious health problems, and therefore should be brought to the attention of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
Like this article? You’ll love our weekly newsletter
sign up here!
**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.