Creaky joints? Stiffness in the knees? Is there any way to keep osteoarthritis at bay? Here are some tips that will help prevent this disease from taking hold.
Maintain Your Ideal Body Weight
Excess weight puts extra stress on your joints. It is one of the biggest risk factors of osteoarthritis as it can accelerate deterioration of joint cartilage. Determining your ideal body weight is not as simple as a 1-2-3 equation or a set formula. To determine just how much you should weigh, several factors are to be considered. These include but are not limited to height, sex, age, muscle-fat ratio, and bone density.
It’s worth keeping in mind that one person’s ideal body weight may be entirely different to another’s. Don’t compare with family or friends as you risk aiming too high or too low. If you are not at your ideal weight, dropping those pounds may be your best hedge against osteoarthritis.
Regular exercise is the best available treatment for osteoarthritis. As well as the best way to keep your joints healthy and supple in the first place. Physical activity that is consistent and moderate helps keep your joints limber. It also strengthens the muscles that support and stabilize your knees and hips. Moderately intense exercise that gets your heart pumping strengthens your heart and lungs and aids in weight loss. Activities that that place the least amount of body weight on the joints, such as cycling, water aerobics and swimming are the safest.
Protect Your Joints
Cartilage doesn’t heal very well. An injured joint has a 7 times greater risk of developing osteoarthritis compared to one that was never injured. Dislocations and even ligament strains can increase the risk of osteoarthritis. Play it safe. While injury is not always avoidable, when exercising or playing sports remember the following:
- Warm up before getting physical with light stretches.
- Wear properly fitting shoes and padding.
- Stay away from running on concrete or asphalt.
- Cool down after intense exercise.
Control Blood Sugar
Recent studies suggest that diabetes may be a significant risk factor for osteoarthritis. Diabetes affects the body’s ability to control glucose. And high blood sugar levels can result in inflammation that leads to cartilage deterioration. So keeping diabetes and glucose (blood sugar) levels under control can help prevent osteoarthritis.
Research has yet to find a specific diet that prevents osteoarthritis, but certain nutrients have been linked to risk reduction.
- Omega-3 fatty acids—Fish oil is the best known source of omega-3 fatty acids. While unhealthy fats increase joint inflammation, these healthy fatty acids do just the opposite. Other good sources of Omega-3 include walnut oil, olive oil, and flaxseed oil.
- Vitamin D—You get the added bonus of a healthy dose of vitamin D while exercising outdoors. Your body makes most of the necessary Vitamin D in response to sunlight. But you can get additional Vitamin D in your diet by eating foods fortified with vitamin D such as eggs, milk, and cereals.
Get Sufficient Rest
Balance exercise with sufficient rest. Exercise is necessary for the development of healthy joints and ligaments. And adequate rest and recuperation when joints are achy or swollen helps reduce the risk of developing this disease.
For those with osteoarthritis, fatigue can increase symptoms and related aches and pains. Be sure to get plenty of shut-eye every night and consider the benefits of pool rehabilitation for an added boost.
Jobs that require a lot of repetitive motion and heavy lifting can be hard on your ligaments and joints. While it’s important to remain active, repetitive motion can be a factor. If your lifestyle or occupation involves any repetitive action, be sure to:
- Change up your routine from time to time.
- Vary your movements as much as possible.
- Remember to practice proper form.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Unfortunately, there are osteoarthritis risk factors that are unchangeable. Factors like age and genes may determine whether or not you develop osteoarthritis. In the end, a healthy lifestyle is your best defense. Make healthy lifestyle choices consistently, one day at a time.