Arthritis is a health condition that inflicts thousands of people with pain and stiffness in the joints, especially among the elderly. Although there is a genetic component that can alter your likelihood of developing arthritis, anyone can develop this condition. However, even a genetic predisposition doesn't guarantee that you'll develop arthritis; there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk. Many of these steps begin with taking a healthier approach to your daily habits.
1. Aim for a Healthy Weight
Losing weight reduces the stress on your bones and joints whenever you walk, stretch or bend over. Excessive weight is particularly harsh on high-impact joints that are more likely to develop arthritis, including your knees and hips. If you're unsure of how to lose weight, talking with your doctor can help you find the best solutions for your situation. Eating less and filling your plate with healthy foods is a good place to start.
2. Increase Your Physical Activity
Improving your fitness is a great way to lose weight and can help boost the strength of your bones. Depending on your age, however, it might not be a good idea to start running without consulting a doctor first. Walking is a good alternative for those who haven't exercised much before. Strength training with a light free weight is also a good way to start exercising.
3. Avoid Activities that Can Lead to Injuries
As you grow older, it may be time to change or avoid activities that can lead to injuries. Injuries in or around a joint can damage the bone and cartilage and make the area more susceptible to arthritis. If you don't want to give up your favorite hobbies, get in the habit of wearing more protective gear. When you jump on your mountain bike, for example, you should always wear a helmet and kneepads. If you do get injured, be sure to see a doctor as soon as possible to minimize the long-term damage.
4. Drink More Water
Drinking water frequently helps keep the cartilage around your joints hydrated. With good hydration, the cartilage is better at absorbing shocks as you move about your normal day. Keep a water bottle with you at all times to help you remember to drink throughout the day.
5. Cut Smoking
Smoking can impact the health and stability of your bones, and weakened bones are more likely to develop arthritis. Cutting smoking completely can be difficult, but there are many strategies available to help you succeed. Getting the help of a support group and working with a doctor can maximize your chances of quitting smoking.
Making changes in your daily habits can improve your health and reduce your chances of developing arthritis. For more guidance on avoiding and dealing with potential arthritic conditions, please contact Mid Atlantic Orthopedic Associates today.