When you think of arthritis, you might think of the pain associated with it and think the best thing to do is take pills and rest. That’s actually not the case. With May of 2015 being National Arthritis Awareness Month, the Arthritis Foundation and American College of Rheumatology wants people to be aware of the benefits of physical activity as a way to ease the pain and fatigue that comes with arthritis.
Arthritis affects one in five people in the United States – that’s some 52+ million! The Center for Disease Control estimates that number could grow to 67 million by 2030. But these trends don’t have to continue. Osteoarthritis – the most common form of arthritis – is on the rise, although it can be prevented by regular physical activity.
The good news is that you don’t have to run a marathon to see improvements. Simply moving for ten minutes, three times a day can help with joint pain, mobility and fatigue. Or you could take it up a notch and sign up for a local, annual walk, run or biking event for a good cause, such as the yearly one supported by the Arthritis Foundation. This event also raises awareness and funding. The annual walk takes place on a different day, depending on your region, but you can go to the Walk to Cure Arthritis website to find the closest one near you.
Even if you do not wish to take part in the annual walk, consider taking a daily stroll. The alternative of developing osteoarthritis or suffering through pain is not nearly as enjoyable. Plus, a refreshing walk will help to clear your mind and help you get some fresh air. Ask a friend or neighbor to join you for some quality time. It is not only great for your overall health; it is a proven preventative measure to ease the onset of arthritis. Your joints will thank you!
Are You at Risk of Osteoporosis or Osteoarthritis?
After age 30, it may seem like things start falling apart. Your bones decrease in density while slowly dissolving, so most adult men and women lose .4% per year thereafter. Especially women after menopause; after they stop producing estrogen. Men are more inclined after testosterone levels slow down. But whether someone is destined to get osteoporosis or osteoarthritis largely depends on how they treat their body at these crucial stages. Most people don’t experience the effects until 60 or so.
So what factors increase your risk?
- Family history
- Smoking and drinking
- Inactivity (lack of exercise), especially weight-lifting and cardio exercises like jogging, stair climbing, or even dancing. Exercise improves balance and keeps muscles strong to support bones.
- Thin or small-framed bone structure
- Drinking cola
- Not getting enough Calcium and Vitamin D
- Some medical conditions, like thyroid disease
- Many medicines used to treat other conditions – thyroid replacement medicine, Depo-Provera shot, SSRIs, corticosteroids, aromatase inhibitors
- Being bedridden for prolonged periods
- Excessive dieting or anorexia
Who is least likely? People of African American descent; people who exercise regularly even as they grow older; people who eat healthy and who avoid soda and drink alcohol only occasionally; people who eat a diet high in calcium; and nonsmokers.
This May, take part in this critical awareness campaign and get moving! You’ll feel so much better when you do.