Look after your joints
and they’ll help you enjoy a better quality of life
All our movements are reliant on the health of the joints in our bodies. Joints are what give us the ability to conduct day to day activities such as walking, bending down to weed, embracing a loved one – all the things we take for granted – and life wouldn’t be the same without them. To maintain an active lifestyle as you get older, it’s essential to look after your joints and this is particularly relevant to those suffering from the onset of arthritis.
Joints are cushioned by cartilage which ensures that the bones don’t rub together. They are also protected by synovial fluid so that movements are smooth and easy and you can do them without thinking. However, as you age, cartilage breaks down and the bones start to rub together resulting in pain and stiffness. Although it’s not possible to regenerate cartilage, there are ways you can lessen the pain and protect the joints from further damage.
Although you might not feel like exercising when your joints are stiff and sore, it’s essential to keep active. “Don’t sit in one position for too long, get up and walk around,” advises biokineticist Kim Hauman, co-founder of Silver Fit. “It’s important to keep moving as inactivity leads to muscle weakness and poor flexibility and it can also put a strain on certain joints. If you’re working at the computer or just sitting reading a book, take frequent breaks, move around and get the blood flowing.”
To get into the habit, establish a regular exercise programme. Adults, especially those over 60, should do at least two and a half hours of exercise a week. Break it up into segments and make it part of your daily routine.
“Start with a series of range of motion exercises,” advises Kim. “These are gentle stretches during which you move your joints as far as they can go. Start with the toes, and work up through the ankles and knees, hips, shoulders and neck.”
Take up low impact aerobic exercise that doesn’t put too much pressure on the joints. “In addition to Silver Fit’s exercise programme, we also recommend walking, cycling and swimming,” says Kim. If you are walking, make sure that you wear appropriate shoes that support the arches and keep up a brisk pace for a good cardiovascular workout. Always warm up gradually beforehand.
The added benefits of exercising regularly are that you’ll lose weight and enjoy more restful sleep. Plus, the endorphins released during exercise are known to relieve stress, lift your mood and make you feel good about yourself.
STRENGTHEN YOUR MUSCLES
As muscles support and protect the joints, it’s essential to strengthen them and keep them in good shape. And the way to do this is through exercise. “The most common joint problems occur in the spine and the hip and knee joints,” says Kim. “We have devised a series of exercises specifically aimed at the muscles supporting these joints which, as a Silver Fit Member, you can access on our website.”
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Excess weight, even just a few kilograms, puts pressure on joints causing pain and accelerating their deterioration, especially the knee joint. Establishing your ideal weight and maintaining it will help to reduce discomfort and stiffness and can even help to slow down the natural degeneration of the joints. “Good posture will also help to lessen the pressure on joints,” says Kim. “Always sit up straight and draw the head backwards, above your neck.”
WATCH WHAT YOU EAT
Certain foods are known to inflame joints so eliminate them from your diet. These include highly processed foods such as white bread, white flour and breakfast cereals, sugar, red meat, fried foods, beer and other alcoholic drinks. They all cause the body to produce uric acid which, if your body is unable to dissolve it, turns into sharp crystals that get lodged in the joints causing pain and discomfort.
Make a point of eating foods that are known to reduce inflammation such as broccoli, olive oil, and those that contain Omega-3 fats, for instance nuts and oily fish like salmon, pilchards and sardines. As it’s filled with antioxidants, green tea is also reputed to reduce inflammation. Always drink plenty of water to keep the cartilage in the joints hydrated.
Supplements can also help to ease discomfort in the joints. However, speak to your doctor before taking them as they may react to other medication you might be on.
Supplements that include glucosamine and chondroitin are often recommended as these two chemical compounds are components of cartilage. Another supplement to consider is turmeric extract. It contains a high percentage of curcumin, a natural and effective anti-inflammatory. Take it in conjunction with black pepper which helps the body to absorb it. Ask your doctor about the right ones for you.
For more information on caring for your joints and appropriate exercises, Silver Fit has launched a new component of our pre-recorded library, specifically aimed at the muscles supporting these joints which, as a Silver Fit Member, you would have access to.
If you would like to benefit from this series,
and participate in a 7-day Free Trial,
please contact Silver Fit at www.silverfit.co.za/register
and quote You’ve Earned It/YEI
Complete the following form
and a Silver Fit representative will get back to you
as soon as they can