Your joints are crucial to your well-being. When not taken care of properly, they can be the first thing to go. In addition to being painful, joint disease also causes weakness, loss of independence and lowers your quality of life. To be active and happy late into life, keep your joints healthy.
Some joint conditions are hereditary and are not preventable. Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune disease that can strike in childhood or later in life. Osteoarthritis can be genetic, but it is usually highly preventable through good health habits and weight management. Following heart disease, osteoarthritis is the second most commonly diagnosed health condition that leads to disability. Even those that are genetically predisposed to osteoarthritis can take steps to prevent them from getting the condition, or keep it from worsening to the point of disability.
Preventing joint disease
Taking proper care of your joints while you are young will lead to a big payoff in your future. Take these steps to prevent joint disease from developing:
- Maintain a healthy weight. This is probably the single most important step that you can take to prevent joint disease. Excess weight puts a strain on joints that isn't necessary, causing injury to the bone, cartilage and tendons.
- Get regular exercise. Good muscle tone will support your joints, keeping them from having to do all the work and reducing the pressure put on them during daily activities. Look for low-impact exercises to protect your joints even more. Some good choices are low-impact aerobics, walking, swimming, cycling or weight training. Yoga is also a fantastic choice.
- Sit up straight. Proper posture will help keep joints in the correct position so that they are well-protected. Sitting, standing, walking and running should all be done properly to avoid injuring your joints. - Eat right. Foods that are high in calcium and Vitamin D will work with your body to keep bones strong and joints well-supported. Good nutrition is important to your general health as well. When your whole body is healthier, it works better.
- Consider supplements. Nutritional supplements are available over-the-counter that may help prevent joint disease or keep it from worsening. Glucosamine & chondroitin are two supplements that are often combined to help support joint health, and improve joints’ ability to recover from injury. Before adding any sort of supplement to your diet, check with your doctor first to make sure that it will be safe for you. Supplements can interact with other medications to cause unintended consequences.