Recently, I’ve taken up a new activity – SUPing or Stand Up Paddling. My family and I took our new SUP board up to the Gun Flint Trail to try it out on Bow Lake, the lake my parents are on during the summer months. After getting over the initial feeling of tippyness, the board was surprisingly stable and oh so easy to paddle. For the first time in my life, I wished I lived on a lake or river. All four of us were able to use it, my eleven year old daughter getting the hang of it faster than any of us. Over that weekend, I enjoyed several trips around the lake aboard our SUP, including an early morning glide into the mist hanging over the calm water and an evening paddle into the sunset. Since then, we’ve tried a few lakes in the area, both north and south. Last night we tried SUPing on the Cannon River, putting in near Riverside Park. The Cannon River, at least at this time of year, proved to be another great site for SUPing. Rich and I plan on doing as much SUPing this fall as we can fit in. SUPing can be a leisurely, stress reducing paddle or a great core and cardio workout depending on how much effort you put into it. Either way, SUPing is another way to enjoy being outside and taking advantage of our state of many lakes and rivers. Give it a try!
A few months ago, I read an article in the New York Times Personal Business section entitled “Caring for Hips and Knees to Avoid Artificial Joints“. It had some interesting statistics I’d like to share with you. In 2007, the cost in the US for hip replacements was $19 billion and for knees, $26 billion and the numbers are expected to rise. A typical joint replacement surgery costs between $30,000 and $40,000. With insurance you may still have out-of-pocket expenses of $3,000 – $4,000 plus the cost of time off for the surgery and recovery. This is becoming a big business as people start getting osteoarthritis in their 30s and 40s rather than 50s and 60s and therefore need replacements sooner and possibly multiple times. I’ve been hearing ads on the radio for joint replacement surgery. In essence it is telling you not to let joint pain interrupt your life, get in and get your joints replaced. If you are at the point were this is your only option, then I say go ahead and get it done. If you are not there yet, read on.
My father has had both a hip and a knee replaced, and although he is feeling less pain now, it has not been an easy road and things are not as good as they once were. After his hip replacement, he ended up with an even shorter leg than he had prior to surgery (a contributing factor to the deteriorating hip joint in the first place) and now has to wear a lift in one shoe or have one heal built up (an added expense) and can’t go barefoot for any length of time. As for the knee replacement, it was complicated and extremely painful. Now I’m not saying don’t have joint replacement surgery if you need it, but think how much better it would be not to need it!
The article mentions several ways to avoid the cost and pain of osteoarthritis, one of the main reasons people get a joint replaced. The first is controlling your weight. As your weight increases, so does your risk for osteoarthritis, particularly of the knee joint and even more in women than men. A woman’s risk of osteoarthritis of the knee drops in half if she loses just 10 pounds! Another suggestion is to get fit with a low impact form of exercise. The muscle you build up around joints act as shock absorbers and decrease the likely hood of injury. Finally, they say don’t waste your money on specialized nutrients like shark cartilage and glucosamine and choindroitin as they are expensive and of limited benefit. I would add to that, though, that high quality Omega 3 supplements are the exception and will give you a good bang for your buck.
So here is my plug: swinging a kettlebell is a great form of low impact exercise that strengthens the muscles across both the knee and hip joints and will burn a lot of calories to help you get excess weight off. If you don’t have a kettlebell at home, I recommend getting one or get in to Forza! three times a week. Take your fish oil supplements! Care for your joints now, avoid expensive and painful surgeries. Your joints will feel better and you will be doing your part to lower the national health bill!