20 Ways to Protect Your Joints

Keeping your joints healthy is an important part of successful aging. While most of us know there is no cure for arthritis, what most of us aren’t sure of is if there are proactive steps that will help keep joints in good condition. Here are few recommendations:

  1. Maintain a healthy weight. Every extra pound you carry around puts four times more stress on your joints, especially your knees.
  2. Practice good ergonomics at the computer. Keep your monitor at eye level. Make sure your keyboard is at a height that allows your wrists to relax while you are typing.
  3. Make sure you are getting enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet.During central Ohio winters, you may need to talk with your primary care physician to see if they recommend any supplements.
  4. Aquatic exercise is a great way to get an aerobic workout while keeping your joints safe. Most YMCA organizations host a variety of water fitness classes on a regular basis.
  5. Try to balance fashion with function in footwear. Wearing high heels only for short periods of time can take pressure off of your back, neck and knees. Opt to wear lower heels with good arch support the majority of the time, especially when you will be doing a lot of walking.
  6. Avoid lifting overly heavy loads. When you do lift or carry heavy objects, use your strongest muscles and joints to carry the load. For example, lift from your knees instead of bending over and picking something up off the ground with your fingers and back.
  7. When you are carrying anything that weighs more than a few pounds, hold it close to your body. It creates less stress on the joints.
  8. If you are a smoker, kicking the habit can help improve joint health. Smoking is linked to lower bone mass, which can cause osteoporosis.
  9. Practice range of motion exercises. You can find a variety of videos to make that easier online. As is true with all new forms of exercise, talk with your physician to get their approval first.
  10. Exercises like walking, Pilates and Tai Chi can help improve strength and bone health. Many area senior centers and fitness centers offer these programs.
  11. Eat a well-balanced diet. Not only will it prevent the weight gain that is hard on joints, but it also helps keep your bones healthy. When you don’t get enough of the right nutrients in your daily diet, your body pulls them from your bones. That can lead to osteoporosis and joint problems.

If you want to learn more about joint health and osteoarthritis, The Arthritis Foundation can be a good source of information. Among other resources, they developed the Walk With Ease program to help older adults learn how to safely and effectively use walking to maintain joint health and decrease the pain of osteoarthritis.