BONES and joints are key to keeping active and mobile, and yet are highly susceptible to injury and pain, so keeping them healthy is vital.
It’s well known that diet’s important — calcium and vitamin D, for example, are essential for building strong bones, while omega-3-rich foods, like oily fish, are believed to help protect joints.
Here are some simple ways to keep those bones and joints in good nick...
KEEP MUSCLES STRONG
Over the years, wear and tear can weaken joints and ligaments. One of the best things we can do is prevent problems from arising or worsening by keeping the muscles that support and surround our joints strong.
This takes the pressure off the more vulnerable bones and soft tissues of the joint, helping them stay healthy and pain-free.
Swimming is an excellent exercise which works all major muscle groups without putting pressure on joints.
DO WEIGHT-BEARING EXERCISE
As excellent as swimming is, it’s wise to combine it with some weight-bearing exercise too, such as walking, dancing, or even doing steps up and down the bottom stair at home.
Weight-bearing movement helps to build up bone strength.
STRETCH IT OUT
If stiff, painful bones and joints are an issue, often the last thing you feel like doing is attempting to stretch.
But there is evidence that keeping supple and practising yoga and Pilates-based exercises can reduce pain and improve joint health.
Check with a healthcare professional before starting any exercise regime if you have a history of health problems. Go gently and listen to your body.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY WEIGHT
Being underweight is sometimes linked to a higher risk of fractures and osteoporosis; being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on joints, contributing to pain and stiffness. Keeping in a healthy weight range can reducing problems like these.
Everybody knows that smoking is linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart and lung diseases, but numerous studies have also linked cigarettes with higher rates of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
There’s lots of support out there for anybody hoping to stub out cigarettes for good.
KEEP ALCOHOL INTAKE MODERATE
Similarly, heavy alcohol intake is associated with poor bone health in later life. There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a tipple or two if you enjoy it, but keeping alcohol intake to a moderate level is certainly sensible.
BE MINDFUL OF MENOPAUSE
Hormonal changes during and after menopause can affect women’s health in a number of ways, including bone health.
In fact, bone density can reduce by up to 20% in the five to seven years after menopause.
The important thing is to remember that menopause isn’t something that should be ignored or that women should just ‘put up’ with.
Discuss concerns, symptoms and treatment options with your GP, who can also advise on lifestyle changes that might help.
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