Exercises, such as strength training and swimming, can help improve joint health and function.
Most of us are well aware of the muscle-strengthening benefits of exercise. But did you know that exercise can strengthen your joints too?
Strong and healthy joints are important as they allow for movement and flexibility. They also help your body absorb shock, maintain balance and stability, and protect your bones and other tissues from damage.
By engaging in various types of exercise, such as walking, weightlifting, or swimming, you can help keep your joints strong and healthy and improve your overall quality of life.
You can strengthen your joints by engaging in various types of exercise as well as maintaining a healthy diet and weight. These practices can significantly improve your overall mobility and help reduce your risk of injuries.
Exercise can help make your joints stronger by:
- increasing bone density
- improving flexibility
- building muscle strength
- promoting circulation (which delivers important nutrients and oxygen to cartilage)
- releasing joint lubricant (synovial fluid) which reduces friction and minimizes wear and tear
- stimulating the production of proteins to promote the growth and repair of cartilage
- reducing inflammation
Why is joint strengthening important?
Joint strengthening is important for several reasons:
- Reduces the risk of injury: Stronger joints are better able to withstand stress and pressure, which can help reduce the risk of injury.
- Improves joint function: Stronger joints can help improve joint function, making it easier to perform everyday activities like walking, standing, and lifting.
- Prevents joint degeneration: Strengthening the muscles around your joints can help reduce the load on the joint itself, which can help slow down or prevent joint degeneration.
- Enhances athletic performance: In addition to reducing the risk of injury, stronger joints can also improve athletic performance.
Several studies show that exercise helps decrease pain and improve joint motion for people with hip and knee osteoarthritis (OA). One review of 96 articles showed how physical activity and exercise often result in better outcomes than medications, injections, and surgery.
The best exercises for strengthening joints are those that help improve muscle strength, flexibility, and range of motion.
Joint-strengthening exercises may include squats, lunges, push-ups, and shoulder presses.
Low impact aerobics
Low impact aerobics, such as walking or cycling, can help improve cardiovascular fitness and strengthen the joints without causing too much stress.
Yoga poses, such as Downward Dog, Warrior II, Bridge Pose, and Tree Pose, are effective for strengthening the joints.
Pilates is a low impact exercise focusing on core strength, stability, and flexibility. The exercises are designed to be gentle on the joints, reducing their stress and impact. Pilates can be particularly effective for strengthening the joints in your knees, hips, and shoulders.
Water exercises, such as water aerobics or swimming, are excellent ways to strengthen your joints with very little impact. The buoyancy of the water can help support your joints and reduce the risk of injury.
Research shows that regular swimming exercises can improve muscle strength and reduce joint pain and stiffness in middle-aged and older adults with osteoarthritis.
There are several foods and supplements that can help promote joint strength and reduce joint pain. Here are some of the most commonly recommended ones:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Anthocyanin is the joint-healthy flavonoid that gives blueberries their deep blue color. Anthocyanins are anti-inflammatory and may help reduce joint pain and stiffness.
Glucosamine and chondroitin
Glucosamine and chondroitin are natural substances found in the body, particularly in the joints and cartilage. They’re often taken in supplement form to support joint health and reduce joint pain and stiffness. Speak with your doctor before taking glucosamine and chondroitin, as research is mixed about its benefits.
This vitamin is essential for maintaining strong bones and may help reduce joint pain. Vitamin D can be found in fatty fish, egg yolks, and fortified dairy products, or taken as a supplement.
Vitamin C is important for collagen production, which is essential for maintaining healthy joints. It can be found in citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens.
Green tea contains antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation and protect joint tissue. It can be consumed as a beverage or taken as a supplement.
This spice contains a compound called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce joint pain. Turmeric can be used in cooking or taken as a supplement.
In addition to exercise, maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle can help promote joint health. Getting enough sleep, managing stress, and avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking can keep inflammation at bay. These practices can help support joint health and improve your overall well-being.
Exercise offers numerous benefits for your joints, including increased flexibility, improved range of motion, and strengthened connective tissues.
If you’re ready to get started on a joint-healthy exercise regimen, be sure to consult a qualified professional to determine the most appropriate program for your individual needs.