Can Losing Weight Help With Joint Pain?

Now you have yet another reason to stay active and eat a delicious, healthy diet. According to research from the renowned National Institute of Health, Arthritis Foundation and Cleveland Clinic, losing weight has a major effect on reducing joint pain and improving mobility. Here are 5 reasons why burning those calories should be a priority.

1. Osteoarthritis Relief

Losing weight can alleviate pain significantly in people who have OA. This is because every pound of weight is equal to four pounds of pressure on joints. If you drop just 10 pounds, it’s like you lost 40 pounds when it comes to your joints. Lose 20 pounds and your body feels 80 pounds lighter!

2. Less Cartilage Loss

Weight loss can make life much easier for people who have OA. Losing weight reduces the wear and tear your joints have to deal with. This can slow the damage to your cartilage, especially in knees and hips. Healthy cartilage cushions your joints, so you want to protect it as long as possible.

According to one 2017 study of knee OA patients, people who continually lost weight experienced much lower cartilage damage. What’s especially interesting is that weight loss was directly related to the speed of cartilage loss. The more weight patients lost, the slower OA advanced.

3. Reduced Inflammation

Did you know that fatty tissues send signals to your body that trigger inflammation? Too much fat can cause sore muscles and joints throughout the body, making the pain of arthritis much worse. Stop this inflammation cascade by keeping your weight in a healthy range. A diet rich in inflammation fighting foods can also provide significant relief.

4. Positive Effects on Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Hitting your ideal weight helps your body deal with autoimmune disorders such as RA and PsA better. One recent study found that weight loss produced significant positive effects on people who have PsA. This can mean fewer days where you wake up with pain and stiffness. Losing weight also increases your odds of RA remission.

5. Lower Uric Acid Levels

Burning calories can reduce overall levels of uric acid in your blood. If you have a tendency to get gout attacks, losing weight should be top on your list of natural remedies. Want to take gout pain relief to the next level? Here’s what to eat:

  • Grapefruit and oranges

  • Pineapple

  • Cherries

  • Leafy green veggies and broccoli

  • Beans

  • Nuts and peanut butter

  • Lentils

  • Whole grains

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water every day. Yogurt, low-fat milk and coffee are great for reducing uric acid levels. Yes, several cups of coffee a day can actually help with gout prevention.

The Best Exercises for Joint Pain

If you’re experiencing a lot of joint pain, the thought of exercise probably doesn't seem appealing. However, your joints need workouts to stay flexible and healthy. The good news is there are gentle exercises you can do that really work. Even better, they help your body release endorphins, natural pain relievers and mood boosters.

Try low-impact, moderately intense aerobics activities three or four days a week. Swimming, walking, biking or using an elliptical trainer all help you stay active while reducing joint stress. As you shed pounds and eat great, you can look forward to less pain each and every day.

10 Tips for Safe Summer Exercise

When the mercury rises, so does the risk for heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses. These risks increase for older adults, who may have difficulty adjusting to extreme temperatures. Seniors are also more likely to have chronic conditions or take prescription medications that make them more sensitive to heat. If you want to stay active when the summer sun takes over, try these smart tips for safer summer exercise.

Stay Indoors

Adjust your normal routine to move your workout inside. If your home doesn't have air conditioning, schedule your exercise sessions around the forecast, or head to a cool setting like a gym, senior center or community center. If you live in an area with a large shopping center, try walking the mall for a change of pace.

Dial It Down

If your typical exercise is fairly strenuous, take it down a notch on the hottest days. For example, if you usually jog or bike, go for a walk instead. Choose a path in your neighborhood with plenty of trees to stay shielded from the sun. As your body acclimates to the increasing temperatures this type of year, you can slowly increase the intensity and frequency of your workouts as long as your doctor says it's safe for you to do so.

Check the Clock

The sun tends to be strongest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., so schedule your workouts early in the day or toward dusk. If you like to exercise after dark or before the sun rises, make sure to wear lights or reflectors so you remain visible to cars.

Get Wet

Water aerobics is an incredible source of low-impact cardio and strength training, so it's often recommended for adults who struggle with joint pain. As an added bonus, you can keep cool on 90-degree days by taking a dip. If you aren't uncomfortable with an aerobics routine, simply swimming a few laps provides a healthy workout.

Remain Hydrated

Drink at least eight 8-oz glasses of water each day, or more if recommended by your doctor. Don't wait until you feel thirsty to drink; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, by the time you notice the symptoms, you may already be dehydrated.

Dress for Success

When you venture outside to exercise in the summer, protect your skin with loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Look for fabrics with UPF protection, since these garments actually block out the sun's rays. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to shield your face, along with sunglasses that have UV protection.

Go Golfing

Even if you're new to the sport, golfing provides a low-impact workout. Because you can ride the golf cart from hole to hole, you have the option of taking a break if you begin to feel tired. In between rides, swinging the club and seeking the ball get you moving. Golfing also provides a great opportunity to connect with others.

Work Out With a Buddy

Speaking of connection, a friend is the perfect complement to your exercise regimen. Using the buddy system is especially important during the summer, so one of you can get help if the other succumbs to the heat.

Practice Self-Care

After a workout, lower your body temperature with a comfortably cool bath or shower. You should also get plenty of sleep on the night after a workout and take it easy so your body has time to rest.

Know When To End

Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of hyperthermia and stop exercising right away if you don't feel well. Danger signs include confusion, dizziness, headache, weakness, nausea or muscle cramps. When these symptoms occur, go inside, drink water and call your doctor right away.

Staying active keeps you healthy throughout life, but too much exercise can cause issues when it's hot outside. With these strategies, maintain your fitness routine no matter what the sun has in store.

What’s the Best Way To Lose Weight: Dieting or Lifestyle Changes?

For many, the battle of the bulge seems never-ending. We lose weight. We gain it back. We lose more weight. We gain even more weight back. To see real, permanent change on the scale, what’s the best way to ditch those unwanted pounds?

Dieting

From Atkins to The Zone, there are more diets than there are seats in Madison Square Garden. Some diets, like the Mediterranean diet, ask you to fill your plate full of healthy fats. Others, such as the Paleo diet, challenge you to go full “cavewoman” and only eat the foods that our earliest ancestors ate: nuts, lean meats, berries.

No matter what’s on the menu, virtually all diets have two things in common. First, most diets are designed to offer big results in a short period of time. They tend to do this by similar means, too:

  • Calorie restrictions

  • “Eat and “Do Not Eat” lists

  • Calorie counting

  • Prewritten weekly meal plans

  • Eliminating certain foods or food groups from your diet

  • Frequent weigh-ins

The other thing that most diets have in common is that they’re ineffective. In the simplest terms, following a regimented eating plan that’s full of rules and restrictions is a hassle. For starters, it eliminates the possibility to eat, drink and be merry. A slice of birthday cake or that second glass of wine are strictly off limits, which can make socializing a self-conscious slog.

It can also result in a frustrating cycle of eating very little for several days and then eating everything in sight. In fact, the overwhelming majority of people who lose weight using a diet gain all of that weight back within five years, and many of those folks pack on additional pounds in the process.

Dieting can also be bad for your health. Extreme diets can be a gateway to eating disorders, particularly in younger women and men. They can also leave you nutrient-deprived. Remember the Grapefruit Diet that was all the rage in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s? It turns out that woman cannot live on citrus fruit (and some strategically placed salads and skim milk) alone. Many diets lack balance. This can have adverse effects on your health, such as iron-deficiency, for example.

Some diets also impart unhealthy, if not downright bizarre, eating tips. Contrary to what you may have believed in the era of Pac-Man and shoulder pads, grapefruits do not burn fat.

Lifestyle Changes

While diets typically provide a temporary fix, healthy lifestyle changes create the potential for lasting weight loss. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Instead of forsaking all carbs, for example, make a switch to healthy whole grains, and incorporate them mindfully. This behavior is far easier to maintain than trying to swear off all bread baskets until the end of time.

Here are several examples of other lifestyle changes that can lead to permanent weight loss:

  • Eating and drinking in moderation

  • Taking the stairs

  • Avoiding processed and prepackaged “convenience” foods

  • Going for a walk everyday

  • Using a fitness tracker or pedometer

  • Drinking more water

  • Treating yourself from time to time

The key to implementing lifestyle changes is starting small. If you want to start walking two miles every day, but you haven’t dusted off your sneakers in years, start by just walking to the mailbox every day — or even just putting on some sneakers. Once you master that walk to the mailbox, start walking to the end of your block and back. You’ll likely find yourself getting to the end of your block and deciding to go even farther — just because you can.

The Verdict

If you want to lose 10 pounds for your niece’s wedding next month, a crash diet might do the trick. If, however, you want to lose weight and make it stay gone, most health and nutrition experts agree that lifestyle changes are far superior to dieting.

6 Reasons Why I Love Yoga

My days as an athlete are behind me — for the most part, at least. I can still swing a mean whiffle ball bat in the backyard, but overall, I look for kinder, gentler ways to exercise these days. When I discovered yoga, it was a game-changer. There are countless reasons why I love my yoga practice (for starters, I can do it in my living room!), but these are six of the most important that I want to share:

1. I’m less stressed.

Striking a yoga pose reduces my anxiety almost instantly. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. A yoga session can also:

  • Decrease tension (especially in your back and neck)

  • Lower your blood pressure

  • Lower your heart rate

  • Ease a variety of respiratory issues

That’s right: Yoga can literally help you breathe easy! These powerful benefits, such as more manageable blood pressure, can also combat hypertension. Since I’ve started my practice, my upper back feels relaxed for the first time in a decade, and I’m taking fewer pills every day, too.

2. I sleep better.

The older I get, the less sleep I seem to get — no matter how late I go to bed. Once I started doing yoga on a regular basis, however, I started snoozing like one of my grandkids. I’m not only sleeping for more hours most nights, but I’m getting higher quality sleep, too.

3. I’m in a better mood.

Maybe it’s the extra rest I’m getting; maybe it’s the potent combo of movement and mindfulness. No matter what the cause, since beginning yoga, my mental health has improved. I still feel blue from time to time, of course, but those times are fewer and farther in between.

4. My bones are stronger.

Decreased bone density and mass are just two of the many “perks” of growing older. Brittle bones and osteoporosis have always been concerns for me, so when I learned that yoga can help stave off their onset, I couldn’t buy a cute yoga mat fast enough.

5. I move faster and easier.

Before I started yoga, getting down on the floor to play with my grandkids felt like moving a mountain — a loudly groaning mountain that couldn’t remember when she suddenly got so inflexible and achy. After just a couple of weeks of regular yoga sessions, I started feeling more limber.

It makes sense. Yoga poses focus on precise, mindful movements and involve a whole lot of stretching. The more often I break out my mat, the easier moving gets. The easier moving gets, the more flexible I become. The more flexible I become, the better my balance gets. All of which leads to perhaps the biggest yoga benefit of them all…

6. I’m in less pain.

As we age, a sedentary lifestyle is a one-way ticket to Aches and Painsville. I recognized that if I wanted to feel as young and vital in my body as I do in my mind (most of the time, at least!), I need to get moving. Since I’ve started incorporating beginners yoga into my weekly routine, I’ve experienced a very noticeable decrease in those creaky joints and achy muscles that I thought I was just supposed to deal with as I get older.

As it turns out, I absolutely did not have to put up with any of those pesky pains! Regular yoga practice means I’m moving more, I’m moving more easily, and I’m worrying less about staying independent as I get older. You know what they say: Move it or lose it.

If you think you’re too old, inflexible or conservative for yoga, think again. Whether you take a beginners class at your local gym or ease into a video series from the comfort of your home, starting a yoga practice can lead to a host of health benefits for your body, mind and soul.

Tips for Taking Care of Your “Bat Wings”

bat-wing arm workouts

Have you noticed that when you wave to someone, your underarm waves too? Don’t worry! Underarm fat, or “bat wings,” as it’s often called, is a very common condition affecting adults. Fortunately, there are some simple exercises you can do to combat the problem. Here are a few of the top exercises and tips to tone up your underarms and get rid of the unwanted “fat flap” for good.

Tricep Dips

Tricep dips are great for tightening up the underarms and reducing the dreaded jiggle. Here’s how to do them.

  1. Sit on a stable chair, bench, or other solid surface of the same height.

  2. Slide to the edge of the chair or bench and grip the edges of the front with both hands.

  3. Move your feet a few steps forward while slightly lifting your body and keeping your grip on the front of the chair.

  4. With your buttocks slightly in front of the seat, slowly lower your body down towards the ground until your arms come to approximately a 90-degree angle behind you. Use your arms to pull your body back up to a seated position.

  5. Repeat this move five to 10 times.

If your arms don’t feel strong enough to lift your body back up, don’t lower your body very far. Instead, lower your body only slightly, then use your arms to raise it back up. Over time, your strength should improve and you’ll be able to lower yourself further.

Wall Pushups

Wall pushups are an easy, safe way to get rid of arm fat. Follow these steps to get started.

  1. Stand with your arms straight out in front of you facing a wall.

  2. Move forward and place your palms flat against the wall, about shoulder distance apart.

  3. Bend your arms as you lower your torso to the wall, while keeping your feet firmly planted.

  4. Tighten your core as you push your body away from the wall using only your arms.

  5. Repeat this process five to 10 times.

As you grow stronger, you can slowly increase your repetitions. The key is to start out slow and don’t push your body too hard in the beginning.

Arm Lifts

Arm lifts can easily be done with or without weights. They strengthen the muscles in the arms and in the shoulders and target fat on the back of the arms. Here’s how to do them safely.

  1. Stand with your feet firmly planted about hip-width apart.

  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand (or do this activity without dumbbells).

  3. Turn your arms so your palms are facing inward, toward your body.

  4. Raise your arms straight out in front of your body, but don’t go higher than shoulder height.

  5. Lower your arms back down to your sides.

  6. Raise your arms to the sides, but don’t go higher than shoulder height. Your body should form a “t” now.

  7. Lower your arms slowly to the sides.

  8. Repeat five to 10 times.

You may wish to begin this exercise without dumbbells, then add light dumbbells (1 to 3 pounds) as your strength increases.

Plank

A plank is a great overall exercise that strengthens muscles throughout your body (including the backs of your arms). Here’s how to perform this great exercise.

  1. Lie down in the ground, with your hands directly beneath your shoulders.

  2. Straighten your core and push upward onto your forearms and toes. Your elbows should be approximately shoulder-width apart.

  3. Avoid pushing your hips upward or downward. Your body should be in a straight line.

  4. Hold this position for a few seconds, then lower yourself back onto the ground. Repeat up to five times.

As you build your strength, you can slowly increase the amount of time spent in plank. Eventually, you may build up to 1 or 2 minutes at a time.

5 Ways To Stay Happy and Healthy While Staying at Home

The key to feeling happy and staying healthy at home is to keep your activity level high. Here are five ways to take great care of your physical, emotional and mental health even if you can’t leave the house.

1. Good Emotions: Connect With Friends and Family

You need your friends and family, and they need you. Even if you can’t talk long, just seeing a friendly face can do wonders for your heart. There’s simply no replacement for a laugh or smile from loved ones.

How can you keep in touch while following social distancing to stay safe? Share the love digitally. Download video-conferencing apps such as WhatsApp or Zoom. These tools are easy to learn.

Phone calls, emails and text messages can also spread welcome morning cheer to friends. With voice technology, composing a heartfelt message is easy.

2. Calm Heart: Limit Negative News

The coronavirus is bad. You understand that. But you don’t need to keep hearing about it multiple times every day. Many health experts recommend cutting down on the amount of coronavirus-related news you watch.

This can reduce your anxiety levels significantly. Ironically, the less stress you have, the stronger your immune system. Instead of staying up late watching the news, get a good night’s sleep and wake up completely refreshed.

3. Active Mind: Put Together a Jigsaw Puzzle

Fight boredom by exercising your mind. Jigsaw puzzles are the perfect recipe for days stuck at home: they keep you entertained, take a long time to finish and feel rewarding from beginning to end.

The beautiful and sometimes humorous images of many puzzles can give you a positive attitude. Try ordering custom jigsaw puzzles online using pictures of your grandkids!

Sudoku, crossword puzzles, adult coloring books and other brain games can be just as effective. The important thing is to give your mind a healthy workout.

What are the best foods for staying healthy during the coronavirus? Follow a colorful diet. Eat lots of red bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, strawberries, yogurt and fresh fish.

4. Healthy Body: Stick to Your Exercise Routine

Now’s a great time to pick a dedicated exercise spot and do some exercise every day. Alternate excellent stretching exercises like Pilates with moderate activities that make you sweat: dancing, strength training or riding an exercise bike.

Keeping up a healthy exercise routine offers many benefits:

  • Excellent cardiovascular health
  • Great emotional health
  • Comforting sense of structure
  • Gratifying feeling of accomplishment

Plus, you get to watch your tummy getting slimmer every day. Having a stunning waistline can definitely make you smile.

5. Satisfied Tummy: Make Delicious and Nutritious Meals From Scratch

It’s easier than ever to have groceries delivered to your door. Instead of ordering takeout, get your hands on colorful fruit, crunchy veggies and nutrient-packed proteins.

It may take longer to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner from scratch, but honestly time is something you have in abundance right now. Making nutritious meals is good for your whole body:

  • Making meals gives you a satisfying activity boost
  • Eating fresh fruit and veggies provides higher levels of nutrients
  • Avoiding takeout lowers cholesterol and glucose
  • Getting vitamins is essential for a healthy immune system

Cooking is a great way to stay entertained and stay healthy at the same time. It gives you more flexibility for eating healthy and making things that get your mouth watering.

Activities To Improve Balance

It’s perfectly natural to feel a little less sure-footed in your golden years. In fact, nearly 40% of older adults are affected by balance difficulties. The great news is that there are things you can do to improve your balance and reduce your risk of falling. Here are simple activities that will help strengthen the muscles responsible for good balance. Give one or more a try every day for a few weeks and see firsthand how they can help you get your steadiness back.

Rock the Boat

If you’re a little rebellious and like to rock the boat, do this exercise to keep yourself steady while you do.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.

  2. Concentrate on pressing your weight equally into both feet.

  3. Carefully shift your weight to your left foot and use a controlled motion to extend your right foot out in front of you. You don’t have to lift your leg high.

  4. Hold this position for 30 seconds.

  5. Lower your right leg slowly back to the floor and repeat the actions on the other side (shifting your weight to your right foot and lifting your left foot in front of you).

Repeat this exercise five to 10 times on each leg.

Tightrope Walk

Have you always longed to walk on a tightrope? Now’s your chance! Here’s how to perform this safe and easy balance exercise.

  1. Place a piece of masking tape (5-6 feet long) on the ground.

  2. Stand at one edge of the masking tape and hold your arms out to the sides.

  3. Walk along the center of the masking tape until you reach the other side.

You can turn around and repeat this process until you feel pretty confident in your balancing abilities.

Heel-Toe Walking

This exercise is great if you’re looking for more of a challenge. Here’s how to do it.

  1. Place a string or long strip of tape on the floor.

  2. Hold your arms out to the sides while you stand on one end of the string or tape.

  3. Walk in a straight line across the string or tape, placing the back of your heel against your opposite toes with each step you take.

  4. Move slowly! Heel-toe walking can be trickier than you expect.

You can continue this activity for 20 steps or more. It should start to get easier over time.

Flamingo Stand

You’ll need a chair to perform this great balancing exercise.

  1. Using a chair for support, stand with your weight on your left leg.

  2. Slowly lift your right leg in front of you, bending at the knee.

  3. Tighten your core muscles and stand tall as you bring your leg up.

  4. Hold your leg up for 5-15 seconds before slowly bringing it back down.

  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

You can do this exercise 5-10 times on each side. Perform it daily for optimum balance-improving results.

Side-Stepping

Remember the old days when you used to do the touch-step, rock step across the dance floor? You can work similar balance muscles by performing this fun and easy side-stepping move in the comfort of your own home.

  1. Stand with your feet close together.

  2. Step sideways with your right foot, while lifting your leg high (as if you’re stepping over something on the floor).

  3. Lift your left foot and bring it next to your right foot.

  4. Continue side-stepping until you reach the other side of the room.

To make sure you work both sides of your body evenly, repeat this process while leading with your left foot.

These exercises are simple enough for anyone to complete, and they’re safe to do at home. If you do them consistently, you’ll lower your risk of falls and related injuries. Learn more about how to stay healthy while you age here.

How To Reduce The Appearance Of Stretch Marks

If you’ve ever struggled with your weight, been pregnant or gone through a rapid growth spurt, you probably have stretch marks. In fact, it’s estimated that 80 percent of all people have stretch marks, though women are more likely to get them than men.

Those little pink, white or purple lines that stretch across various body parts are the subject of much angst. In an effort to live peacefully with them, multiple campaigns have been created to urge people—particularly women—to embrace their stretch marks as beautiful designs rather than flaws.

Though it’s important to love and appreciate your body no matter what it looks like, you may still wish to at least minimize the appearance of your stretch marks. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to improve the way you look, as long as your goals are safe and attainable. Fortunately, it is possible to reduce the appearance of stretch marks without undergoing major surgery or other invasive procedures. Here’s how.

How Stretch Marks Appear

Before you take steps to minimize your stretch marks, you should understand how they form. Stretch marks are actually scars that develop when the skin stretches rapidly. They can also develop when the skin shrinks abruptly. Changes in skin tautness occur when the elastin and collagen in the skin rupture. As they heal, stretch marks form.

Once they form, stretch marks are usually permanent. However, they do tend to fade over time. If you leave them alone, they can take years to fade to the point where they are no longer very obvious. If you want to speed up that process, here are some things you can do to help stretch marks fade more quickly.

Apply Stretch Mark Creams and Lotions

While research shows mixed results when it comes to stretch mark creams and lotions, researchers say that some products can help minimize scarring. However, they must be applied every day for several weeks before results appear. You should also take time to carefully massage stretch mark products into your skin to maximize their effectiveness.

Avoid Tanning Beds

It’s already a well-known fact that tanning beds increase your risk of skin cancer. It turns out they can also make your stretch marks much more noticeable. That’s because stretch marks don’t tan as readily as the rest of your skin. So each time you get in a tanning bed, you increase the visibility of your stretch marks while putting yourself at increased risk of skin cancer. Avoid both scenarios by staying away from tanning beds.

Apply a Self-Tanner

Although tanning beds can make your stretch marks stand out even more, self-tanner can do the opposite. Self-tanner won’t get rid of stretch marks, but it can help camouflage them so they blend in better with the rest of your skin.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Some foods are known to help the body increase its own production of elastin and collagen. Leafy greens and brightly-colored fruits and vegetables are particularly helpful for increasing elastin and collagen and contributing to healthy skin that stretches and springs back more readily. If your diet is rich in these types of foods, you may be able to minimize the appearance of future stretch marks.

Dermatology Procedures

There are a variety of procedures dermatologists use to minimize the appearance of stretch marks. Some of these include:

  • Radiofrequency
  • Chemical peels
  • Microdermabrasion
  • Ultrasounds
  • Laser therapy

For optimal results, your dermatologist may recommend multiple therapies in combination. It’s important to have realistic expectations and understand that there is no known therapy that can completely remove stretch marks.

Whether you have new, brightly colored stretch marks or yours have faded over time, these techniques can help them fade even further. Try one or all of them today and within weeks you could start seeing positive results.