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Want good joint health? Move!

Joint pain is a rather pervasive complaint for modern bodies. Often when we’re in pain our instinct is not to move as much. But sometimes the best way to avoid painful joints and to improve how our joints feel is to move. And I don’t mean keep moving in the ways that cause pain. But learn how to move better and then move often.

Our bodies are meant to move and move often. In the fantastic new book, Primate Change, Vybarr Cregan-Reid explains how modern lifestyles and conveniences mean we are making more sedentary choices every day. And issues with mobility, joint health and overall well being are on the rise.

A simple solution to some of our ills is simply to move more. Cregan-Reid debunks the myth that running is bad for joint health and recommends brisk walking and running every day. In fact, being sedentary is worse for your knees than running or brisk walking. The answer is to move your joints and challenge your bones with weight-bearing movement.

Similarly, learning to do a deep squat has enormous benefits for joint mobility and maintaining independence later in life. Choosing to sit less even when the option is available is another easy way to add mobility. Is it a reflex for you to sit whenever a chair presents itself? It was for me until I chose to stand when I read and write and while on the train or bus. All that time standing while writing or on a moving vehicle does wonders for challenging your postural and core muscles while weight bearing through your joints and asking them to move more frequently.

The biggest changes I’ve made after reading Primate Change is to stand or squat as often as I can and walk whenever the distance is less than a 45 minute walk. Humans used to walk about 30-40 kilometers every day. Walking even 1-2 kilometers a day is a good start to being less sedentary. Often people have techie devices that count their steps and they aim for their magic number of steps every day. But I think a better app would be to prompt you to stand after a certain amount of time sitting or log how much time you spend sitting. It’s not the number of steps that’s important, it’s the dangerous amount of time spent sitting that’s the problem.

Even those of us who consider ourselves fit and active may be surprised at the sedentary choices we make when we’re away from our sport or activity of choice. I know I’m guilty of choosing to sit or drive when I could be choosing an option that lets me move more. So now I make choices with my current and future joints in mind and I know I’ll thank myself later.

One Comment

  1. Omar Omar

    Sometimes we procrastinate about going to the gym/walk/ run/jog regularly, we’ll find 100 excuses not to but but once we’re out there it feels so good. One of the excuses I’ve used is “ it’s too late I won’t have time for 10km, I’ll go tomorrow”. When in reality it’s not about doing 10km all the time. You could go out for one km and that’s a whole lot better than nothing. And if you’d get out and just do one km regularly your body would just want more /feel better vs you forcing yourself to a “10km or nothing kind of thinking.

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