5 Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, is an uncomfortable and debilitating condition which is caused by the wearing down of cartilage in a joint. It is now thought that as many as one in two Americans will get some form of osteoarthritis in their lifetime. Due to the high number of sufferers many people wrongly believe that arthritis is an inevitable part of growing old. In reality, evidence suggests that there are practical changes in lifestyle which can decrease your likelihood of developing the condition. So what can you do to reduce your risk of osteoarthritis?

Tip #1: Keep Up Muscle Strength

Maintaining a high level of muscle strength has been shown effective in reducing arthritis, particularly of the knee. Increasing muscle strength reduces the pressure put on weight bearing joints. Low impact sports such as swimming and Pilates offer a gentle way to strengthen muscle without causing harmful wear and tear.

Tip #2. Vary Your Exercise

Repetitive stress on the same areas of the body can cause cartilage in a joint to wear down prematurely; varying your exercise routine allows rest periods for different parts of the body. Alternating between strength and cardio training or partaking in a range of different sports will mean there is less chance of overworking one particular joint.

Tip #3. Reduce Your Risk of Injury

Studies indicate that the risk of developing arthritis in the knee is higher in those that have suffered a previous knee injury. Preventative measures, such as wearing the right protective gear, should be taken during exercise to reduce your chance of damaging a joint. Any injury you do sustain should be checked out as soon as possible to stop it causing permanent damage to cartilage.

Tip #4. Get More Omega-3s

Omega-3 fatty acids are a natural way to protect the cartilage in your joints.  Recent laboratory research has found that adding omega-3 fatty acids to cartilage cells increases their resistance to degradation and inflammation. A quick and easy way to increase your intake is by taking an omega-3 dietary supplement; however, recent studies suggest that omega-3 from food is more effective. Salmon is a particularly good source of omega-3 fatty acids, as little as two portions a week will significantly increase the presence of omega-3 in your body. Walnuts, tuna, soya beans, tofu and some dark green leafy vegetables also contain high quantities of omega-3.

Tip #5. Make Sure That You Are A Healthy Weight

Maintaining your recommended weight is undoubtedly one of the most effective ways of preventing osteoarthritis. Being a healthy weight decreases the pressure put on weight bearing joints, especially hips, knees and ankles. Reducing your weight will not only lighten the burden on your body's joints but can also reduce your risk of other health problems such as heart disease, stroke and even some cancers.

The key to reducing your risk of osteoarthritis in the long term lies maintaining a healthy diet and an active lifestyle. To ensure that the joints in your body suffer as little damage as possible throughout your life, talk to your doctor about implementing these changes.