Joint health is a growing health concern for many people. For example, the AARP estimates that 70 million Americans will suffer from osteoarthritis by the year 2030. But strengthening your joints and boosting joint health isn't just about preventing health problems. Stronger joints today also means improved flexibility and a greater range of motion so you can do better at sports, family play, office work and the many things that life throws at you every day.
Work Out to Keep Pain Out
Exercise has several benefits for general joint strength and health. For example, it can help keep joints properly aligned and positioned. Exercise also improves joint strength by strengthening the muscles and tissues surrounding your joints. And if you're already suffering from joint pain, the release of endorphins during exercise helps to lessen the pain naturally. Try low-impact exercises, such as yoga, swimming and cycling, which strengthen your joints without causing too much joint strain. For the best results, aim for 30 minutes of exercise at least four times a week. Talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise regimen, as even generally gentle workouts, like Ashtanga yoga, can stress your joints if you're not adequately prepared.
Chalk It Up to Calcium
Adequate calcium intake is linked to general joint health and overall bone health. The National Academy of Science recommends that adults consume 1,000 mg of calcium every day until age 51, at which point the recommended intake jumps up to 1,200 mg per day. But you don't have to turn to synthetic supplements to enhance joint strength. Naturally improve calcium levels in your diet by eating joint-strengthening foods that are rich in calcium. Top food choices recommended by the nutrition therapy team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center include edamame, calcium-fortified cereal, non-dairy milk alternatives like almond milk, dark leafy greens and yogurt.
Drop the Pounds to Drop the Stress on Your Joints
The heavier you are, the more your joints have to work. Your joints get weaker under the constant stress of carrying your body weight. Reverse the process and boost your joint stability and strength by reducing the pressure that your body weight puts on your skeletal frame. In fact, you can reduce the pressure on your joints by up to eight pounds simply by losing one pound of body weight. This has huge ramifications. For example, the Arthritis Foundation reports that obesity increases the risk of needing a knee or hip replacement by more than 300 percent. If you are overweight or obese, work with a physician and registered dietitian to determine your best course of action. Typically, simply reducing your daily calorie intake by 100 calories can help you lose 10 pounds in one year.
Pop a Fish Oil Pill
Joints experience inflammation, irritation and weakening when the moisturizing fluid in the joints gets diminished. Naturally lubricate your joints to restore range of motion, strength and flexibility by taking supplements containing essential fatty acids. Talk to your doctor about what supplements work for you. Generally, fish oil pills are one of the most common ways to increase essential fatty acids (EFAs) in your diet. In one study published in the "International Journal of Neurosurgery and Neuroscience," researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center instructed people to take 1,200 mg of EFAs from fish oil every day. Within 75 days, 59 percent of the people being studied reported such an improvement in joint health that they were able to discontinue taking their joint pain prescription medicine.
- AARP: Osteoarthritis - 7 Things You Need to Know
- AARP: Don't Be Weak in the Knees
- The Telegraph: Joint Exercises - Keep On Moving
- American Council on Exercise: Yoga at a Glance
- CBS Boston: Five Foods To Strengthen Bones, Joints
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Calcium and Bone Health
- Natural Health Magazine: The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Joints
- Arthritis Today: Joint Replacement and Body Weight
- Harvard Medical School: Why Weight Matters When It Comes to Joint Health
- Alive Health Magazine: Lubricate Your Joints Naturally