As the seasons change, we are reminded of all the fun activities that living in Vermont offers. Keeping our joints in good condition is a must if we want to continue to live a happy and healthy life, and it’s a good time to review some tips that can help us keep our bodies in top physical shape.
Maintaining one’s physical fitness is extremely important for healthy joints. For many, this can be a scary endeavor, but fear not. Even daily walks are a great way to stay active, and what better time than the beautiful fall of Vermont?
Here are some tips to get the most out of your physical activities:
- For those of us with occasionally painful hips and knees, low-impact activities such as swimming, the elliptical and cycling can be valuable alternatives to running.
- Don’t forget your core – arm curls may look great at the gym, but a strong core is necessary for long-term hip and knee health.
- Balance and stretching exercises can help with this strengthening.
Whatever activity you choose, always remember to stay within your comfort zone initially and gradually build up your activity level in a safe manner.
Diet and Nutrition
Good nutrition is a must for the long-term health of our joints. Three key ways to improve your health through diet and nutrition are as follows:
- Take a look at your typical diet; is it high in saturated fats and/or processed foods? A healthy diet involves minimizing these foods.
- Bone heath is dependent on appropriate amounts of calcium and vitamin D, so check with your primary care provider to make sure you are getting enough of these nutrients. Dairy is the easiest way to get calcium, but leafy greens vegetables such as broccoli and kale are also great sources.
- And although it’s easier said than done, weight loss is perhaps the number one most effective way to maintain the health of our joints. Our knees see three to six times the force of our body weight with each step. That means being only 10 pounds overweight corresponds to an increase of 30 to 60 additional pounds of force through the knee with each step. Even losing one pound can make a big difference, and every little bit helps.
Long days at work can make us feel fatigued and unmotivated, especially if you are sitting behind a desk all day. There are ways to combat the ill effects of being confined to a desk:
- Remember to maintain good posture in an effort to strengthen the neck, back and shoulder muscles.
- Try to go for short walks during the day, or perform some tasks while standing.
- Perform ankle pumps to keep the blood circulating well in your legs.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, one’s attitude and happiness are significant contributors to overall orthopedic health. Stress has been shown to affect the levels of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is an important hormone that effects bone metabolism. Activities such as meditation, yoga and spending time with friends and family are good strategies to lower stress, keeping us happy and smiling as we move forward in life with strong and heathy hips and knees.
John “J.P.” Begly, MD, joined CVMC Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, 1311 Barre Montpelier Road, Berlin, in September after completing a one-year sports medicine fellowship focused on minimally-invasive hip, knee and shoulder interventions at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in Vail, Colo.
Bone and Joint Action Week is held annually Oct. 12-20 and focuses on disorders including arthritis, back pain, trauma, pediatric conditions and osteoporosis.