Many of us associate aging with the development of arthritis, and we have good reason—from 2010 to 2012, an estimated 52.5 million U.S. adults (22.7%) annually were diagnosed with some form of arthritis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s estimated that 62% of those 52.5 million adults are over the age of 65. The CDC also estimates that nearly 1 in 2 people may develop symptomatic knee osteoarthritis by age 85—for hip arthritis, it’s 1 in 4 people.
Despite the prevalence of arthritis in older adults, research suggests there are ways to help lower your risk. AARP.org recently published a list of “8 Ways to Prevent Arthritis,” and we thought we’d pass on a few of their key suggestions:
Stay active. Maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise can help prevent certain types of arthritis and reduce arthritis pain. Exercise also increases flexibility as well as muscle and joint strength, and decreases fall risk. The most effective type of exercise routine incorporates a variety of aerobic exercises, such as a walking, biking, rowing and strength training. Get in touch with your doctor to figure out a regimen that works well for you.
Avoid soda. Soft drinks contain a ton of sugar, which not only contributes to weight gain, but can also speed the progression of knee osteoarthritis—a study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Tufts Medical Center found this to be particularly true of men who consume more than five sodas per week. A 2014 study at Harvard also found that soda may increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women.
Now for the good news: you can enjoy a cocktail! According to a study in the British Medical Journal, women who consumed more than three alcoholic drinks a week over a period of a decade lowered their risk of rheumatoid arthritis by about half. Be aware, though, that beer may increase your risk of hip and knee osteoarthritis, and that excessive alcohol consumption ups your chances of developing gout.
Go with olive oil. Research suggests that a compound found in extra virgin olive oil may lessen inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis. You can incorporate it into spaghetti, salad dressing and many other dishes, or use it as a cooking oil, but try not to go overboard, as olive oil is highly caloric.
Read the full list of tips here.