So now that you know that one of the factors affecting joint health is lack of physical activity, what do you do about it? Well, you naturally start off with some form of exercise to improve joint flexibility and range of motion. But at the same time, you also have to watch your weight.
When your body becomes too heavy to be supported by your joints and bones, problems start to arise. As such, you need to exercise and eat right to keep your body at an optimal weight.
How Weight Affects Joints
If you have a sensation of pain when walking for a while or climbing up the stairs and are worried because it runs in the family, then you should take a look at your weight. Being overweight increases your chances of getting osteoarthritis. As mentioned earlier, this
condition is caused by the wear and tear in joints and is the most common form of bone degradation.
When you’re overweight, there’s extra stress on the joints that bears your weight. The most common of these joints is the knee joint and it’s the first one to get affected by excess weight. The second reason why weight is detrimental for joints is that as your weight increases, the inflammatory markers in the body also increase. This further causes joint deterioration in other places such as your hands and neck.
The extra pounds in your body stressing your joints can lead to degeneration of cartilage and joint damage. In cases of osteoporosis, being overweight also increases the rate of bone degeneration. By shedding weight, you can protect your joints from extra stress and any further damage. Experts suggest that you should lose about 10% of your body weight and then see if the symptoms improve.
If they do, then it’s your weight causing the problems in the first place. Obesity further reduces any physical activity which becomes another cause for joint issues in the long run. And if you already suffer from an extreme case of arthritis, high endurance exercise can also damage to your joints.
So, it’s important to get guidance from an expert about the kind of exercises you can and should do. In osteoarthritis, sitting for extended periods of time causes stress on the joints and worsens the pain. If you have an office job, make a habit to take a walk or do short exercises after every hour.
Reduce Stress on Joints
Weight loss is a great way to reduce stress on your joints. On average, the amount of pressure or stress on your knees is 1 ½ times that of your body weight. So, if you weigh 300 pounds, you are putting 450 pounds of stress on your knees. This is when you are in standing position. As the incline increases, the stress increases too.
As such, when you climb stairs, there’s more stress on your knees. If your knees are extremely close to the ground, like when you tie a shoelace, the weight increases to three or four times of your body weight. Experts say that just a 10 pound increase in weight increase 30 to 40 pounds of stress on your joints. The joints work fine while they are still young and healthy but after an extended period of time, they give up.
So just imagine that if you lose weight, how much stress you’ll be able to reduce on your knees. When you’re young, the body’s cells proliferate at a considerable rate. With age, this process slows down so the damaged cells don’t get repaired as quickly as they did during your youth.
So start slow and you’ll be able to lose the extra pounds very easily. Physical activity in the form of exercise is a proven way of slowing the progression of arthritis. Just like any machine, the body wears away if it is not being used properly. So, put your muscles and joints to use so that they do not rot away.
Every pound you lose represents about 3500 calories. So, if you’re hoping to lose one pound in a week, you need to burn about 500 calories in a day. The exercise plan you follow must at least help you lose 500 calories in a day.
Along with exercise, you also need to focus on your diet. Even if you’re young and not arthritic, it’s essential that you watch your weight to dodge this disease in a few years’ time.
Pay Attention to Your Posture
It’s a basic rule of thumb that good posture can save you from a lot of pain. Improper posture often becomes the cause of back pain and knee pain. Standing up straight is a good way to keep your knees, legs and back safe from stress.
When you slouch, you increase the stress on your joints. As mentioned above, the closer your knees are to the ground, the more stress they bear. So when you stand, make sure there is no incline and you are straight to minimize stress on your knee joint.
Whatever you do, it’s important to have proper posture to keep your back muscles and knee joint safe. For example, if you are a student and you need to hold your backpack for a long time, sling it over both your shoulders rather than just one. This divides the stress instead of concentrating it only on one side.
Likewise, if you carry a handbag, keep changing your arms after a few minutes. Don’t sling it only on one shoulder for a long time as that can damage the hinge joints in the region.
Proper posture is essential because it also keeps your bones and joints aligned. When you have a bad posture, this alignment gets disturbed and causes the joints to rub against each other. When this keeps happening over time, wear and tear starts to take place.
Your spine takes the stress and starts presenting issues. If you have a kind of job where you need to sit for many hours, make sure you have proper posture. Shoulders should be over hips and you should have good lower back support. Your computer screen should be at
eye level so that you don’t have to put strain on your neck to look at the screen. Keep your elbows at 90 degrees and the pens or other things you may need should be in easy reach.
When you have to tie your shoe lace, sit on a chair and keep your foot on the opposite knee. In this way, you won’t have to bend too far down. Bending too far increases stress on your joints. So, the idea behind proper posture and exercise is not only to keep joints healthy but also to slow down the degradation process.