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HomeLifestyleHealthWorld Arthritis Day: 9 lifestyle changes for boosting bone and joint health...

World Arthritis Day: 9 lifestyle changes for boosting bone and joint health | Health

Bones and joints play a significant role in our health. With age, our bones may lose density and become susceptible to osteoporosis, and this can affect mobility. Sedentary lifestyle and faulty diet choices may affect our bone health. Regular exercise, foods rich in essential vitamins and minerals, and adopting correct postures are some of the factors that are important for bone and joint health as we grow old. Arthritis can cause inflammation in joints and lead to pain, swelling, stiffness and even deformity. There are over 100 types of arthritis that can affect people from rheumatoid arthritis to osteoarthritis. (Also read: World Arthritis Day 2023: 8 early signs and symptoms of the disease you shouldn’t ignore)

Arthritis can cause inflammation in joints and lead to pain, swelling, stiffness and even deformity. There are over 100 types of arthritis that can affect people from rheumatoid arthritis to osteoarthritis.(Freepik)
Arthritis can cause inflammation in joints and lead to pain, swelling, stiffness and even deformity. There are over 100 types of arthritis that can affect people from rheumatoid arthritis to osteoarthritis.(Freepik)

“Arthritis is a very condition that affects millions globally, causing pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. World Arthritis Day is observed to increase awareness about this condition. However, whether or not you have arthritis, taking care of your bones and joints should be a priority. World Arthritis Day is the right time to put the spotlight on the importance of bone and joint health because they are of at most important to keep you going,” says Dr Vinay S. Joshi, Consultant, orthopaedic/joint replacement surgeon, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Mumbai.

“Arthritis is a debilitating condition that causes inflammation of the joints in the body such as knees, hips, shoulders and elbows. The condition affecting children, young adults and the elderly is a global epidemic with nearly 350 million people suffering from it. World Arthritis Day is a crucial reminder of the significant functions our bones fulfil within our bodies. Our bones play important roles including anchoring muscles, protecting organs, providing structure and storing calcium, therefore, it is important to take necessary steps to protect your bone and joint health to help your bones serve you well into your golden years,” says Dr. Aashish Chaudhry, Managing Director, Senior Consultant & Head, Department of Orthopaedics & Joint Replacement Aakash Healthcare, New Delhi.

What are the essential nutrients for bones?

“Eating a diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is one of the few simple steps you can take to prevent or slow bone loss. Together, these minerals help improve your bone health. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium is 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day for individuals aged 19 to 50 and for males aged 51 to 70. For those above 71 years of age and older, the dosage rises to 1,200 mg per day,” says Dr Chaudhry.

Some of the excellent sources of calcium include dairy products, almonds, broccoli, kale, canned salmon with bones, sardines, and soy products like tofu.

“Your body needs sufficient amounts of vitamin D to absorb calcium. For adults, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 600 international units (IU) per day. For persons 71 years of age and above, the suggested daily intake rises to 800 IU. Salmon, trout, whitefish, and other oily fish are good sources of vitamin D. Sunlight also plays a role to assist your body in making Vitamin D. In addition, eggs, mushrooms, fortified foods like milk and cereals also serve as rich sources of this sunshine vitamin. Ask your doctor about supplements if you’re concerned about obtaining enough calcium and Vitamin D through diet alone,” says the expert.

Importance of regular physical exercise

Regular exercise goes a long way to preserve your bone and joint health. You may strengthen your bones and reduce bone loss by engaging in weight-bearing workouts like walking, running, and climbing stairs. Your bones are less likely to break if you make them stronger. Additionally, you can lessen your chance of getting osteoporosis, a disorder marked by low bone density. Exercise can also assist to protect your joints since it relieves pressure, strain, and stress on the joints themselves by strengthening the muscles that surround them. For instance, you may lower your chance of suffering knee joint damage by strengthening your quadriceps (located on the front of your leg) and hamstrings (located on the rear of your thigh),” says Dr Chaudhry.

Dr Vinay S. Joshi shares tips for excellent bone and joint health.

1. Prioritize nutrition

Make sure to include the right nutrients in your diet. Calcium and Vitamin D are important for bone health. Dairy products, fortified foods, leafy green vegetables, and fish like salmon can help make your bones stronger. Supplementation should be considered if dietary sources aren’t enough. Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit joint health and are found in fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds. They are very useful to keep the joint pain at bay. Avoid excess alcohol intake and smoking as both of these can interfere with the body’s ability to absorb essential nutrients and lead to weakening of the bones.

2. Stay active

Being physically active can keep your bones and joints stronger while a sedentary lifestyle can deplete bone health. Weight-Bearing exercises such as walking, jogging, and workouts with light weights can help maintain bone density and strength. However, these should be done under proper supervision to avoid any injury. One must incorporate stretching and balance exercises to enhance joint mobility and reduce the risk of falls and fractures. Yoga is a good option and can be done as per ability and age. Low impact activities like swimming and cycling are good choices for those who have existing joint problems or want to reduce joint stress. Swimming is especially useful as it exercises the muscles without putting excessive stress on the cartilage.

However, while being active is crucial, it’s essential to recognize when to rest. Overusing or straining a joint can lead to injury or aggravate existing conditions.

3. Mind your posture

Whether you are sitting, standing or lying down, maintaining a proper posture ensures that your joints are not under undue strain. Consider ergonomic furniture and tools if you spend long hours at office desk. Keep your laptop at the proper level to avoid strain in your cervical area, shoulders, arms and back. Always keep your back supported to avoid crouching posture.

4. Maintain a healthy weight

Excess weight puts additional stress on weight-bearing joints like the knees and hips. Even a small amount of weight loss can significantly reduce joint stress.

“If you carry extra weight, it can damage your joints by forcing them to bear a heavier load than they are anatomically equipped to handle. This constant pressure of handling excess weight can wear down the cartilage in your joints leaving you susceptible to arthritis, pain and injury. Research has shown that losing even a few kilos can go a long way to improve joint pain from conditions such as knee osteoarthritis,” says Dr Chaudhry.

5. Regular check-ups

Bone density tests and routine physicals can identify potential issues early on. If you have a family history of osteoporosis or arthritis, you should be proactive about regular screenings. Early intervention can make a significant difference in treatment outcomes.

“The importance of routine screening to monitor your bone and joint health cannot be overstated. A DEXA bone density scan to assess osteoporosis risk in postmenopausal women is advisable. A low bone density puts you at risk of osteoporosis. Additionally, your vitamin D levels may also be assessed through a simple blood test. If you are found to be deficient in vitamin D, your healthcare provider may recommend dietary measures, supplements and sun exposure to increase your levels,” says Dr Chaudhry.

6. Protect your joints

Wear proper supportive footwear as good shoes can reduce stress on the knees and hips. Use assistive devices like braces and walking aids that can help protect joints and enhance mobility for those with joint issues and pain during motion. Make sure to practice safe movements. Lift something from the floor using your legs, not your back. Avoid repetitive motions that strain particular joints. Train yourself to flex hips and knees for picking up objects from the ground.

7. Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated ensures that the cartilage in our joints gets enough lubrication to keep our joints healthy.

8. Be informed about medications

Some medicines, like corticosteroids, can affect bone density and can cause brittleness of bones. If you’re on long-term medication, discuss bone health issues with your doctor.

9. Avoid substance abuse

“Avoid smoking and if you do, quit. Additionally, if you are a woman, restrict to drinking not more than one alcoholic drink each day. For men, not more than two alcoholic drinks are advisable each day,” says Dr Chaudhry.

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