1. Keep Moving to Maintain or Improve Joint Health
Many people with arthritis resist regular physical activity or exercise because they fear it will increase pain or further damage their joints. The body is supposed to move; our joints allow for movement. In fact, movement eases joint stiffness, reduces joint pain, strengthens the muscles which surround the joints, and help us maintain a healthy weight. The benefits are real, so keep moving!
2. Joint Protection Is Important for Optimal Joint Health
It is important for everyone, especially people with arthritis, to protect their joints. The goal of joint-protection principles is to decrease pain and reduce the stress or burden placed on the joints. This can be accomplished in several ways :
1. Pay attention to pain signals
Avoid activities that stress joints or increase pain
2. Pay attention to proper body mechanics
3. Balance activity and rest; don’t overdo activities
4. Check out available assistive devices or mobility aids
5. Maintain a healthy weight
3. Maintaining Your Ideal Weight Is Important for Joint Health
With regard to optimal joint health, it is necessary for us to maintain our ideal body weight. Carrying excess body weight adds stress to our joints, especially the weight-bearing joints. Studies have found that weight loss significantly reduces knee pain, function, and stiffness associated with knee osteoarthritis.
4. Low-Impact Exercise Is Beneficial for Your Joints
The desired benefits of regular physical activity and exercise can be achieved with low-impact exercise—a gentler type of exercise that minimizes the stress put on joints during high-intensity workouts. For example, according to the Arthritis Foundation, low-impact exercises that are easier on your joints include aquatic sports, such as swimming; social sports, such as golf; walking, and cycling.
5. Strengthening Muscles Around Joints Improves Joint Health
The muscles that support our joints must be kept as strong as possible. You can work on maintaining or improving your muscle strength by doing strengthening exercises. Weight training is often used as part of a strengthening regimen. Be careful to pace your workouts and not overdo it. With proper strength training, you will increase the stability of your joints, while decreasing pain.
6. Range-of-Motion Exercises Enhance Flexibility and Mobility
Arthritis is characteristically associated with limited range of motion. To preserve your current range of motion or improve it, you should routinely put each joint through its full range of motion. Extend, bend, or rotate each of your joints. Range-of-motion exercises improve flexibility, relieve stiffness and pain, and help keep our joints functional.
7. An Anti-Inflammatory Diet May Be Beneficial for Joint Health
Reducing inflammation is part of keeping arthritis symptoms under control and improving overall joint health. An anti-inflammatory diet involves avoiding foods that increase inflammation while including more foods that decrease inflammation. Many sources suggest that a Mediterranean diet is a good choice for keeping inflammation under control.
8. Vitamin D and Calcium Are Important for Joint Health
Vitamin D and calcium are two nutrients that are required for healthy bones. Vitamin D is actually needed for calcium absorption. You can obtain vitamin D through sun exposure, diet, or supplementation. Many people need some supplementation. Your doctor can order a blood test to determine if you are deficient in vitamin D. Low calcium is associated with decreased bone density and increased fracture risk.
9. Stop Smoking to Improve Bone and Joint Health
Most people are unaware that smoking increases the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures.6 Smoking also increases the likelihood of injuries involving bursitis or tendonitis. Smokers also have a higher risk of low back pain and rheumatoid arthritis. Stop smoking to improve bone health and joint health.