3 Ways to Prevent Osteoarthritis
One in four adults will experience osteoarthritis later in life. The good news is, there are ways to prevent it. Use these three tips to keep your joints healthy now and for years to come.
When we’re young, it’s nearly impossible to contemplate having an older body, but by the time we’re in our 40s and begin experiencing the entirely unwelcome aches and pains that signal middle age, it’s easier to imagine what our body will feel like when we hit our 60s and beyond. For some of us, old age might include osteoarthritis, a degenerative joint disease that breaks down cartilage, grows worse over time, and causes severe pain.
Related: 6 Ways to Strengthen your Bones
According to the Arthritis Foundation, one in four adults will show symptoms of osteoarthritis by age 65, which means millions of us could enter advanced age accompanied by severe pain. There’s good news, however, and that is that osteoarthritis is not inevitable. In fact, there’s a good chance you can prevent it entirely by following the three major ways to prevent osteoarthritis:
1. Maintain a healthy weight
To appreciate the damage extra weight does to your body, imagine that you’re the owner of a truck. Now, fill the bed of that pickup truck with concrete. You’ll get poor mileage, your brakes will need to be replaced faster, and your shocks will wear out very quickly. The same science applies to your body: Extra weight means putting your joints through extra stress, which wears them out faster. Johns Hopkins says that being just ten pounds overweight increases the pressure on each knee by 30-60 pounds per step. There’s also evidence that obesity quadruples the risk of a woman getting osteoarthritis in her knee. Even small weight loss makes a big difference.
2. Cut back on carbohydrates and added sugar
Carbohydrates are everyone’s favorite friend (I’m looking at you, spaghetti), but they’re also one of the worst things for our bodies, and a diet low in fat and high in sugar spells trouble for your joints. Studies have found that those who consumed whole foods like fruits and vegetables and nuts were significantly less likely to be hampered by inflammation, which can cause arthritis in joints that don’t even hold weight (like fingers).
3. Get moving
The old saying, “Move it or lose it,” holds especially true with osteoarthritis. A group of Canadian scientists found that even just walking 30 to 50 minutes a day decreased knee pain and improved quality of life. According to the Arthritis Foundation, “Exercise is considered the most effective non-drug treatment for reducing pain and improving movement in osteoarthritis.” That’s big news because you’ll also rely less on painkillers and have less risk of developing dependency. Try walking, but also consider adding weight training to your day to increase range of motion and improve the health of your joints.
Related: Why You Should Have Good Posture
Getting older isn’t anything to be scared of as long as you respect your body while you’re young. Stay active, eat whole foods to nourish yourself, and keep off the pounds. All the research points to osteoarthritis being preventable if you do your part to treat your body well.
While you’re here, check out our other healthy living articles.
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