Embracing Lifestyle Health: A Key to Orthopedic Wellness from Dr. Howard Luks

Dr. Howard Luks

Howard J. Luks, MD is a leading orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist. Dr. Luks is an expert in shoulder, knee, and other sports injuries, and author of Longevity… Simplified: Living A Longer, Healthier Life Shouldn’t Be Complicated.

Are you 50+ years old with a belly that is reminding you to move more but your joints hurt so you’re not quite sure where to start?  Prescribe FIT can help. 

Addressing lifestyle is crucial to living a longer, healthier life, particularly for those dealing with joint and muscle pain. This article aims to explain, in simple terms, why lifestyle changes are about more than just weight loss – it’s about overall health improvement, which will lead to less pain, improved mobility, and less disability.

4 Key Lifestyle Health Changes

Orthopedic health, which pertains to the muscles, bones, and joints, is significantly influenced by our daily lifestyle choices. In our age group, it’s common to experience joint pain, stiffness, or other muscle problems. However, by focusing on four key lifestyle health areas – diet, sleep, alcohol consumption, and physical activity – we can significantly reduce these issues and improve our lives simply by having less pain as well as more strength and mobility.

  1. Diet and Ultra-Processed Foods: Ultra-processed foods are often high in unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt, leading to chronic inflammation in the body. This inflammation can worsen joint pain and contribute to joint and muscle damage. By replacing these foods with whole, nutrient-rich options like fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, we can reduce inflammation and improve joint health.
  2. Quality Sleep: Good sleep is essential for healing and repairing your body. Poor sleep can increase inflammation and pain sensitivity, making joint and muscle problems worse. 
  3. Alcohol Consumption: Excessive alcohol can contribute to inflammation and dehydration, negatively affecting joint health. Moderating alcohol intake can help reduce these risks and improve overall health. In addition, alcohol has a terrible effect on our sleep.  
  4. Physical Activity: Regular physical activity strengthens the muscles around your joints, better supports your joints, improves bone density, and increases flexibility. This doesn’t mean you need intense workouts – even daily walks or gentle exercises can make a big difference. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense that moving more is helpful if our joints hurt.  Sometimes you just have to trust us.  I have treated 20,000 people over my career.  Those who took this advice seriously have typically felt much better within a few months. 

Beyond the Scale: 7 Other Benefits of Lifestyle Changes

It’s easy to get fixated on the numbers on the scale, but the benefits of lifestyle changes go far beyond weight loss. And these improvements often occur before any meaningful weight loss occurs. 

  1. Reduced Chronic Inflammation: By adopting healthier habits, you reduce chronic inflammation in your body, which is a key contributor to pain and joint damage in orthopedic conditions.
  2. Improved Cardiovascular Health: Healthy eating and regular exercise significantly lower the risk of heart disease and stroke.
  3. Cognitive Benefits: These lifestyle changes also contribute to better brain health, reducing the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
  4. Joint Benefits: A healthier lifestyle can lead to less pain from osteoarthritis (OA), slower worsening of OA, and a reduced likelihood of tendon tears.

Under the microscope: 

When you start making lifestyle changes, the improvements begin deep within your body.  These changes occur at the level of every cell in our body.  These positive changes occur even if they’re not immediately visible on the scale.

  1. Cellular Healing: Your cells start to recover from the damage caused by high inflammation caused by a poor diet, lack of sleep, and inactivity. This leads to reduced inflammation and pain.
  2. Improved Metabolism: These changes improve your body’s metabolism, making it more efficient at using nutrients and maintaining a healthy weight.
  3. Muscle Strengthening: Even if you’re not losing weight rapidly, your body is building stronger muscles, which is crucial for joint support and joint health.

Remember, Patience is Key! Weight Loss Will Follow

It’s important not to get discouraged if the scale doesn’t show immediate results. The changes you’re making are creating a foundation for long-term health.

  • Focus on Non-Scale Victories: Celebrate improvements like better mobility, less pain, more energy, and improved mood.
  • Consistency is Crucial: Stick with your healthy habits. Weight loss is often a slower process, especially as we age, but it will come with time.
  • Seek Support: This is why we are here to help you.  This isn’t an easy process to start and keep up with.  Change is hard, but it’s worth it. The folks here at Prescribe FIT will be with you at every point along your journey. 

Focusing on lifestyle health is not just about reducing numbers on the scale. It’s about making meaningful changes that improve your orthopedic health, reduce your risk of serious diseases, and enhance your overall quality of life. Remember, every small step counts, and the benefits of these lifestyle changes are worth the effort. Stay patient and consistent, and the results will follow.

Published on January 12, 2024