How To Save Your Knees, One Step At a Time

by DavalosMcCormack on July 28, 2008

We never really appreciate something until we no longer have it. That’s particularly true of our knees. For most of our lives we take them for granted. They help us get around but we don’t really pay much attention to them. They’re uncelebrated and unsexy; after all, when was the last time you heard someone say “Cute knees!” But once they start to go, boy do you begin to realize just how important they are.

Every year millions of Americans hurt their knees. Some are sports injuries – serious problems like a torn meniscus or busted ACL – others are work-related, yet most are just wear and tear. The truly good news is that many of these day-to-day aches and pains can be avoided, with just a little effort.

The first and most important thing most people can do to reduce their likelihood of knee pain is to lose weight. I know. It really isn’t that easy but it is the best. Here’s why. Your knee is one of the main weight-bearing joints in your body. Every step you take, every time you walk, run, or even just stand up, your knee is helping hold you upright. If you are overweight that puts an awful lot of extra strain on those joints.

According to a study in the journal Arthritis and Rheumatism, for every pound of weight you lose there is a four pound reduction in the load placed on the knee with each step. Four pounds! Over the course of a day think how much that adds up to. For instance, just a one pound weight loss would mean 4,800 pounds less strain on your knees for every mile you walk. Lose two pounds and it’s 9,600 less pounds per mile.

So how do you lose that weight? Well, forget the big picture. That’s always the most intimidating. Instead focus on a few simple numbers. One pound of weight = 3,500 calories. If you eat 3,500 more calories than you burn off then you’ll put on a pound. But if you burn off 3,500 more calories than you take in, then you lose a pound.

But 3,500 is a pretty big number. So break it down even further. Let’s take the number 250. If you take in 250 fewer calories a day (that’s the equivalent of a Snicker’s bar or most energy bars) and burn up 250 more calories a day (by walking a bit more, taking the stairs instead of the elevator etc) then you are burning up 500 calories more a day than you used to. At the end of one week, that is 3,500 calories. One pound.

Even if you only manage to do it a few days a week you can still lose a pound every other week or every month. Your knees will thank you. And what’s best is that as you lose that weight and your knees have less to carry, you’ll find it easier to do activities, you’ll find it easier to exercise, which in turn helps speed up weight loss. It’s a wonderful cycle to get caught up in.

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