As we age one of our biggest problem areas is typically our joints. We start to develop discomfort in these areas and diagnosis of osteoarthritis is fairly common, which can be incredibly debilitating. Heck, I’m not even 30 yet and a recent MRI told me I have mild arthritis in my hip already – the dull, burning ache that results in loss of sleep and just straight-up discomfort. Is there any way to relieve this pain without copious amounts of medication or even surgery?
Well, it seems that a life of physical activity may help keep our bones and joints healthy! What? Sounds counter intuitive? Let’s dive in.
Fitness for Improved Bones and Joints
A 2014 study published in Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (JAAOS) found that being active can drastically improve our musculoskeletal health and can also help to minimize some of the effects of aging. This was determined by reviewing some of the most recent research on elite athletes 65 years and older.
Lead author on the study orthopedic surgeon Dr. Bryan Vopat explained, “An increasing amount of evidence demonstrates that we can modulate age-related decline in the musculoskeletal system. A lot of the deterioration we see with aging can be attributed to a more sedentary lifestyle instead of aging itself.”
This isn’t the first (nor the last) study to depict how being physically active as we age can help improve our bone and joint health. Another 2014 study found that exercise and manual therapy could significantly reduce the pain and mobility problems related to osteoarthritis.
To combat this lack of physical activity, the researchers suggested that resistance training, endurance training and flexibility/balance training work well together to help improve our bone and joint health. Combining these three can help to improve joint and bone health while also helping to improve your strength, muscle mass, cardiovascular health and balance.
It’s never too late to start an exercise program. Just make sure to get your doctor’s clearance to start a new exercise program (and get professional help if necessary) and start slow. This is particularly true for older adults. Dr. Vopat explained, “Regimens must be individualized for older adults according to their baseline level of conditioning and disability, and be instituted gradually and safely, particularly for elderly and poorly conditioned adults.”
While it might not be an “easy” way to improve your joint and bone health, exercise should be a vital tool in your overall health regime. From improving joint pain to improving your functional strength to just improving your heart health, exercise is a great way to improve your overall quality of life! Even if you don’t have joint pain, starting and maintaining a fitness regime just might be what you need in order to live a long, comfortable life!
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You probably know that calcium and vitamin D3 are essential nutrients for bone health, but did you know they may also aid in managing your weight?
Research published in the FASEB Journal in June 2000, and in the January 2003 issue of Nutrition, plus many newer studies have shown:
Calcium intake actually lowers calcium levels within fat cells which happens to accelerate the breakdown of fat.
Several studies have linked low vitamin D levels with increased risk of being overweight. This may be because vitamin D is stored in the fat cells and is not then circulating in your body, or because obesity also causes less absorption of the vitamin.
One study found that women on a reduced-calorie diet with higher blood levels of vitamin D ended up losing more weight than those on the same diet with lower vitamin D levels.
While dieting or just eating a low calorie diet, it may be hard to get enough calcium and vitamin D from food. To get 1000 mg of calcium each day, you would need to drink 3 full-sized glasses of milk! This can be especially difficult for those who are lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy products. Smart and Easy Ways to Get More Calcium
Getting enough vitamin D from food is even more difficult. You would need to drink 10 glasses of milk to get 1000 IU of vitamin D and there are not very many food choices that contain high levels of vitamin D naturally. You can get vitamin D from the sun, but only if the UV index is 3 or higher and if you are not wearing sunscreen. Not an easy thing to do in the chilly winter months, especially in the northern states.
First things first…get a bone density test and get your vitamin D levels measured, then supplement according to your doctors instructions.The best way to insure adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D each day is by taking a quality calcium and vitamin D supplement. Try a liquid formula that uses vitamin D3. It will be easy to swallow and absorb quickly into the body. Make this a part of your overall plan to Get Healthy in 2014!!
Do you currently take a calcium and vitamin D3 supplement? Why or why not?
Though you may think your bones are just a hard and dormant support structure for your body, they are actually dynamic, growing tissue with new bone constantly replacing old bone. How can you keep your bones strong over time? Feed them the right nutrients and engage in regular weight bearing physical activity. Strong bones help protect your organs from injury, allow your body to move and support good posture.
Several vitamins and minerals are important for bone health. However, the top two that provide the most impact are calcium and vitamin D. Calcium, the primary mineral found in bone, contributes to the strength and hardness of bone tissue. Over time, inadequate calcium intake can lead to weak, porous bones.
National survey data shows that many Americans are not getting enough calcium in their diet. In women ages 19-30 and 31-50 only 28% and 33% are getting above the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) set for calcium. The best dietary sources of calcium are dairy foods and fortified nutritional foods such as protein shakes. Green leafy veggies also contain calcium but in very small quantities. For instance, 1 cup of broccoli contains only one-sixteenth of the recommended intake for the average adult aged 19-50! So eat broccoli too, but be aware of the proportion of calcium coming from it versus other foods and take a calcium and vitamin D supplement if your doctor recommends it.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb the calcium you consume. Most of us aren’t getting enough vitamin D either, which has set the stage for a vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency epidemic in this country. Few foods contain vitamin D. Most milk is fortified with it and it is also fortified in some brands of orange juice, yogurt and breakfast cereal. Egg yolks, liver and some types of fish naturally contain vitamin D.
In addition to eating a nutritious diet packed with calcium and vitamin D, everyone needs regular physical activity including resistance training (strength training) and weight bearing exercise. Lifting weights, rock climbing, gymnastics, running and walking are examples of activities that help build bone strength. If you choose to run or walk, be sure to lift weights for your upper body too so you build those bones as well.
Calcium and Bones. NIH.
What We Eat in America, NHANES 2005-2006.