5 New Year’s Resolutions to Improve Bone and Joint Health
As the new year begins, many of us are more determined than ever to stick to our resolutions. And for many of us, our new year’s resolutions are focused on our health. For anyone who is grappling with bone and joint health issues, here are some easy-to-incorporate resolutions that will help make this year your best yet.
1. I will make movement a part of my daily life.
As the saying goes, “use it or lose it.” That definitely applies to your bone and joint health. Weight-bearing exercise is essential to maintaining healthy bone density1. It also helps support your joints by keeping the surrounding tendons and ligaments healthy and strong.
This doesn’t mean you suddenly need to become a protein-shake-guzzling meat head at the gym. It simply means you should strive to move more. That might mean taking up an active hobby you enjoy, such as walking, dancing, playing tennis, doing yoga, or riding a bike.
Keep in mind that consistency outweighs duration. If a ten minute walk through the park is all you can manage, strive to do that every day. If you don’t feel like going out, you can always do squats and lunges by your desk at work or at home in order to strengthen joint tissue and improve your range of motion.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of everyday activities, such as gardening, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, walking to and from the grocery store while carrying your bags, etc. These small, everyday changes are great ways to incorporate more weight-bearing movement into your life, while still managing to get stuff done.
It may be helpful to wear a fitness tracker or keep an exercise diary to log your daily activities, in order to keep you motivated. If you can reach small goals every day, then you are less likely to fizzle out come February and March.
2. I will wear the proper gear during activities.
Sports safety and supportive gear serve a very important purpose: keeping you from getting injured. While many injuries sustained during activity will heal, serious joint injuries earlier in life can increase your risk of developing arthritis later in life. So even if you’re young now, wearing the proper gear may protect your joint health in your later years.
And just because you may have been playing fast and loose with your sports gear now, doesn’t mean it’s too late to turn around bad habits. If you’re thinking of taking up a new sports activity in the new year, make sure you do your research and seek professional advice about the proper gear you’ll need and the proper way to use it.
3. I will ask for help when I need it.
We don’t always like to reach out for help, because we like to think we can manage it all on our own, or we don't want to look weak. But the truth is, a lot of joint injuries happen when people attempt to lift, climb, or carry more than they can handle. These injuries can be avoided by simply getting help with heavy or risky tasks. This year, make it a resolution to know your limits and ask for help when you need it.
4. I will see a doctor about my nagging aches and pains.
Many of us make the mistake of trying to ignore those aches and pains2. We brush them off as nothing that an over-the-counter pain pill can’t cure. But if you’re experiencing knee, hip, or shoulder pain, go talk to a doctor. A qualified orthopedic specialist can help you pinpoint the source of the issue and help you find solutions to fix it. There is no need to suffer in silence. It’s ok to go to a medical professional and ask for help with your aches and pains.
5. I will get enough Calcium & Vitamin D.
Calcium and Vitamin D are essential for building strong, healthy bones. Calcium is what makes your bones strong, while Vitamin D is needed in order for your body to absorb calcium and put it to good use. The best way to get both is to know which foods to add to your diet.
While calcium is commonly found in dairy products, there are plenty of other food sources, too. Salmon, sardines, and other small bone-in fish, along with almonds, broccoli, and dark leafy greens, are fantastic sources of calcium.
Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D3, but it can be a little challenging to soak up some rays in the dead of winter. Thankfully, many of the same foods that are high in calcium are also good sources of Vitamin D, such as wild-caught fish, fortified dairy, soy, and nuts. You can also get Vitamin D from eggs, liver, and shitake mushrooms.
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3.Optimal vitamin D status for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis., 2007;24(12):1017-29