Help your kids or grandchildren avoid aches and pains later in life by having fun with them now. With the weather getting nicer, give yourself permission to have more fun outdoors. Your children will thank you for it.
When it comes to parenting, what kids experience as fun in childhood becomes the lifestyle they carry into adulthood. Having healthy fun—by playing physical games as a family and planning meals together—helps your children avoid one of the most “un-fun” elements of growing older: arthritis pain.
The most common form of arthritis, osteoarthritis, typically appears after middle age and affects the smooth covering, or cartilage, that covers the ends of your bones where they meet. As the cartilage deteriorates, the bones rub against each other, which causes pain, swelling, or reduced motion.
“Once osteoarthritis begins, it is a progressive disease,” says Dr. Christopher Heatherton, family medicine physician at Bingham Healthcare. “But there are things we can do to prevent or delay the deterioration,” he says.
Be a good leader.
“Even though most parents or grandparents don’t think about it, they model healthy (or unhealthy) habits every day,” Dr. Heatherton says. “The way you’re feeding your child now is probably the way they’re going to eat later in life.” The same is true of physical activity.
To keep weight under control, create healthy meals together as a family.
The extra pounds that come from a poor diet can create problems for joint health. “Being overweight through childhood and adulthood leads to earlier development of osteoarthritis,” Dr. Heatherton says, “because the joints have to work under more stress.”
Teach coolness of kneepads and helmets!
Encourage your kids to wear protective equipment while being active. An injury to the joint during adolescence makes it more likely your child will develop osteoarthritis later in life, according to the National Institute of Health.
Encourage your children to try out for a team sport.
Like healthy eating, regular physical activity keeps a child’s weight in check, but the act of movement itself has a more direct benefit. “Motion promotes healthy joint cartilage,” Dr. Heatherton says. “It’s one of the most important things you can do to prevent the development of arthritis.”
Don’t push your kids to do every sport, though.
“Overuse injury is very real,” Dr. Heatherton says. “If the child is complaining about aches or pains, pay attention to those complaints and maybe back off some of the activity. Sometimes they’re just signed up to do too much.”
Need a Primary Care Provider?
Christopher Heatherton, DO, is a board-certified family medicine doctor and sees patients of all ages. It is also important for him to help adolescents through mild to severe cases of depression. He sees patients in Blackfoot; same day and next day appointments are available.
For more information about Dr. Heatherton, or to schedule an appointment, please call (208) 782-2980.