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How Aging Affects Your Joints

How Aging Affects Your Joints

How Aging Affects Your Joints

Did you know that joint changes are a natural part of getting older? Read on to learn what causes joint discomfort, the effects of aging on joints, and what you can do about it.

Your body has more than 200 joints, ranging from the small ones in your fingers to large joints such as your knees. Simply put, a joint is the place where two bones meet. Synovial Joints (including the knee, hip, and shoulder) are surrounded by collagen, have an inner membrane that secretes a lubricating fluid, and contain cartilage, which pads the ends of the bones. Each of these components is are susceptible to the effects of aging.

Joint discomfort affects millions of Americans, but few people know that aging causes wear and tear on our joints that can lead to joint discomfort. While wrinkles and gray hair may indicate aging on the outside, your joints show the passage of time on the inside. So what drives this joint discomfort over time?

Cartilage, your natural shock absorber: In normal, healthy joints, a smooth layer of cartilage cushions the bones in your joints, allowing them to glide over each other easily. This firm, rubbery tissue is composed of about 85% water and 15% collagen and other proteins. As you get older, this water content can decline to about 70%, resulting in less effective cushioning. The cartilage in our joints can also breakdown with age. As the cartilage breaks down, it becomes rougher and thins, and can eventually result in your bones rubbing together, leading to joint discomfort.

Synovial Fluid: Like oil in your car, synovial fluid lubricates your joints for smooth movement. Healthy joint fluid contains high amounts of large hyaluronic acid molecules, which naturally cushion your joints and other tissues. With age, the size of the hyaluronic acid molecules in your joints decreases inhibiting its ability to support cushioning and lubrication.

Collagen: This protein is a natural part of your connective tissue, and is found in your cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bones as well as your skin. Collagen fibers keep your skeletal system flexible, but collagen levels in the body start to decline after about age 25. These declines can cause cartilage to become less flexible and more brittle over time.

Inactivity and excess bodyweight can intensify the natural wear and tear process on your joints. Every extra pound of bodyweight exerts four times more pressure on your knees, which support your entire body. In addition, inactivity leads to reduced joint motion, decreased flexibility and muscle weakness, all important functions for healthy joints. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 30 minutes a day of moderate aerobic exercise—such as brisk walking—five days a week, along with two days a week of muscle strengthening activity. If 30 minutes seems like too much at one time, try breaking it into three 10-minute segments. Whatever gets you up and moving is well worth it!

And now that you know the ins and outs of aging and joints, click here to find out which Move Free® product is best for you.
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