Joint HealthNow that I am well into my- ahem- 40s, I have started to give my future health some serious consideration. Given that I tend to give my body quite a pounding in the mileage stakes with the walking, trekking and running, and intend to continue to do so for as long as I am able, I thought it was time to develop a plan for ensuring that my joints are well able to cope with whatever I choose to throw at them. So I have come up with a five stage process for future joint health; feel free to use it yourself to help keep your joints in tip top endurance condition;

1. Being overweight places additional stress and strain on the joints, especially when running and walking up or down hill. Even a few pounds of excess flab can make joints work that bit harder and cause them to wear out quicker than they should. Losing the excess weight and reaching- and maintaining- my ideal weight (although easy in theory!) should reduce some of the strain my poor old joints are under.

2. Adopt a healthy eating plan. Although most of us know we should be eating less processed stuff and plenty of fruit and vegetables, plus whole grains, too many of us are not actually doing it often enough- me included! Eating a healthy diet with loads of natural whole foods will give the body the vitamins, minerals and nutrients it needs to repair and maintain itself and cope with endurance training and tough events.

3. As we age the cartilage which cushions the joints starts to wear out. Poor nutrition and excess weight can accelerate this process, but if the cartilage wears too much the cushioning effect is lost and bone starts to rub against bone, causing pain. Eventually joint replacement surgery may be needed. Glucosamine is a natural compound found in the body and used to build and repair cartilage; however we produce less of it as we age. I have started to take a good quality glucosamine supplement each day to keep my cartilage as intact as possible.

4. Incorporating strength training into your training routine will strengthen the muscles around your joints so that they will be able to support the joints more effectively. Poor muscle tone can increase risks of joint injury. Time to hit the gym!

5. I am also learning to listen to my body. If you experience any pain and soreness outside of normal aching muscles when training, stop and give your body time to repair itself. Trying to train through an injury, especially if you are getting older, can make it worse, so that you will be laid up for much longer than if you had just rested in the first place.

Now I have my plan in place it is my intention to keep on walking and running into my 80s or even beyond- I’d love you to join me!

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