One of the most frustrating side effects of aging is aches and pains in the joints. A history of sports, hard work, or even routine physical activity over the years can cause small and large injuries to joints, and over time the damage adds up.
Joint pain can be particularly frustrating since it impacts the ability to move freely and engage in even everyday activities. Joint problems can also contribute to more serious health concerns such as a significant loss of mobility, flexibility, and range of motion, increased fall risk, and strains, sprains and dislocations.
Here are three ways to help maintain joint health into retirement and beyond.
As long as you keep your exercise routine low impact and exercise safely (meaning not when alone if there is any chance of dizziness or a fall), you should attempt to remain as active as possible. If muscles around the joints are strong, the joints are better protected.
Consider working out safely on an elliptical machine or stationary bike; joining a yoga or Pilates class; walking with a small group; or any kind of water activity. Don’t forget to stretch daily to keep the muscles strong and flexible and relieve pressure on the joints.
Sit up Straight
Sitting slouched or bent over looking at a screen, keyboard, or handheld device can do a number on your spine, neck and shoulders. Add some gentle core exercises into your workout (again, Pilates, Yoga, and water aerobics are ideal) and remind yourself to sit and stand straighter when walking, sitting, or lifting.
A good trick is to put a wall mirror visible form your favorite sitting area. You’ll catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and remind yourself to straighten your posture. After a time, this will become a good habit.
Watch your Weight
Every pound of weight on your body adds several pounds of force to your joints. Even just being 10 or 15 lbs overweight means your joints are taking the brunt equivalent of 30-60 lbs. Extra weight can quickly cause joints to be uncomfortable and will make them deteriorate more quickly.
Make sure you lose weight in a healthy manner, using proper diet and exercise together. Look for foods that support joint health, like salmon, avocados, cod, flax seeds, and coconut oil, and consider a supplement focused on joint health.
Joint pain doesn’t have to be something you just accept as part of aging. You can actively work to decrease the presence of joint pain in your life, and remain healthy, happy, and mobile for years after retirement.