7 ways to age better and hurt less

Do you know people who seem to defy the stereotypes of aging — especially when it comes to pain? They may have occasional aches. But they’re moving through life with zest well into their retirement years.

What’s their secret to aging so comfortably?

Ask them — and you may find they rely on positive steps like these to help prevent or reduce muscle and joint discomfort. And their secrets may work for you as well.

1. Keep moving

It’s important to stay as active as possible. Even people who have arthritis pain benefit from keeping joints limber and muscles strong. If you’re just starting an exercise program, begin gradually — and build from there.*

2. Exercise all your options

Find activities you enjoy. You’ll be more likely to stay active if you like what you’re doing. If you’re looking for aerobic activities that are gentle on joints, consider biking, swimming and walking. Stretching exercises, including yoga and tai chi, can improve flexibility and may help ease or prevent pain.

Most healthy adults should aim for at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week. Make strength exercises part of your routine as well. See “Stay healthy and strong!”

3. Balance action with rest

Some downtime is important too. Schedule regular rest days between workouts and other physical activities, so that your body can rejuvenate and repair tissue.

4. Meet weighty issues head on

It isn’t fun math: Each pound you gain adds nearly 4 pounds of stress to your knees. And it increases the pressure on your hips six times over. If you’re carrying excess weight, talk with your doctor about ways to lose it. It’s a big step for better health — and you may have less pain too.

5. Protect and preserve

An injured joint hurts — and it’s also more likely to develop osteoarthritis. So guard your joints from damage. If you play sports, wear protective gear. And when lifting, have your own back — by using proper techniqueOpens a new window.

6. Accentuate the positive

People who focus their attention on what they can do, rather than what they can’t, may cope better with pain. If your limitations are getting you down, make more room in your life for activities — and people — that make you feel energized, happy and upbeat.

7. Listen to your body

If you have a nagging injury or suddenly develop pain that limits your movement, stop what you’re doing — and talk with your doctor.

Remember: You have options for care. Choosing wisely could save you time and money, up to $1,500 on care.**

What to do next

Take a small but powerful step for better health — by sitting less and standing more. Here are some fun and practical ideas for getting up out of your chair more often.

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*Talk with your doctor before significantly increasing your activity level.

**Source: 2015 Average allowed amounts charged by UnitedHealthcare Network Providers and not tied to a specific condition or treatment. Actual payments may vary depending upon benefit coverage. (Estimated $1,500 difference between the average emergency room visit and the average urgent care visit.)