Arthritis is painful and uncomfortable, and the popular perception is that it's just a symptom of old age. There's a lot of research, however, going into finding out what causes arthritis and how to prevent it. General health practices such as diet and exercise always advisable, but you can gear your healthy habits toward the prevention of arthritis by following these tips.
Exercise Often and Take Time to Rest
You can't feel it most of the time, but your body works hard to carry around your weight. Every gram of muscle (and yes, fat too) increases the load that your bones and joints have to bear every moment of every day. Your skeletal system doesn't ever get a rest – it's working all the time.
Reaching the overweight threshold is especially tough on your joints. Every 10 pounds of weight adds another 30-60 pounds of impact that your joints have to absorb whenever you run, jump, walk, or perform any impactful movement.
Exercising regularly helps keep off excess weight, and it comes with an additional benefit – it also strengthens the muscles around your joints, which strengthens your joints as a result. Strong joints supported by strong muscles allow you to do more activity, which helps you manage your weight. These factors make exercise one of the best ways to prevent arthritis.
The best way to get in that exercise is to do cardio training on land, including walking, running, or biking, and in water as well, by swimming or participating in water aerobics. Even if you aren't trying to build a beach body, you should still mix in muscle training as well, which will increase the strength of your joint muscles and prevent the development of arthritis.
|Arthritis can cause pain in a number of joints in the body. Source: nih.gov|
Eat More Fish
Fish are celebrated around the world for a reason – they are low-fat, delicious, and rich in nutrients and healthy oils. Among the amazing substances in fish that enhance your health are omega-3 fatty acids, which are healthy polyunsaturated fats. They offer an array of benefits to a healthy body, not least of which is a reduction in inflammation. The reduction in inflammation reduces your pain while the nutrients help to strengthen and rebuild the areas of your body that are needed to prevent or are suffering from arthritis.
Some of the most nutrient-rich fish include trout, salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Nutritionists recommend eating any combination of these fish twice a week for optimum joint health and arthritis prevention.
Any movement you make wears out your joints slowly, but injuries wear them out fast. Breaking, twisting, stretching, snapping, cracking, bruising, or crushing your bones causes permanent damage to your skeleton and the joints that keep your body together and moving. That damage increases the chance that you'll have arthritis as you age.
To avoid injury and help prevent arthritis, use the recommended safety equipment while playing sports and practice prescribed exercise techniques. Stretches are helpful for relieving muscle tension but can also release some of the strain on your joints.
Get Checkups from a Doctor or Rheumatologist
Talk to your physician about ways to prevent arthritis through lifestyle changes or treatment options available through regular checkups. The healthcare community stresses checkups for a reason – they are essential to preventive care and can save you time, money, and pain.
If you start to develop arthritis and need more specialized care, see a rheumatologist. Arthritic damage happens continually over time, so the longer you wait, the worse the damage you suffer will be.
Be Happy (And Have a Drink)
Alcohol is a curiosity in the health community, and innumerable studies have pointed to conflicting evidence of efficacy as a treatment for any particular disease. However, drinking alcohol responsibly has shown limited positive effects on health.
Staying happy is part of being healthy, so if you find you enjoy moderate amounts of alcohol consumption, talk to your doctor about what arthritis prevention benefits you could receive from responsible alcohol consumption.