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Fuelling your mobility: Eating right & getting mobile

When it comes to getting mobile we mostly focus on exercise or physical therapies to improve our ability to get active. Physical activity is one of the best ways to get active, but without the right fuel for your body, you may struggle to feel the full benefits of exercise. Whether you’re struggling with mobility due to age, and injury or just want to prevent such issues in the future, it’s vital to make sure you’re eating the right kinds of food to promote healthy mobility. In this week’s blog, I’d like us to examine what foods and nutrients can help promote increased mobility and limit pain or discomfort whilst exercising.

Why is nutrition important for mobility?

My uncle once had a sports car that served as his pride and joy for many years. He would spend hours tinkering with it, tuning the engine and polishing components to ensure it would run as well and efficiently as possible. One day he accidentally put the wrong fuel in, and it wouldn’t start. Just like a car, we can spend as much time maintaining our bodies and being physically active, but without the right kind of fuel we just wont work. If you are trying to get active but struggle with mobility, it is vital that you give your body all the right tools to keep your limbs supple and your joints flexible so you can exercise efficiently without the fear of injury. Here are some of the most important ways we can fuel our body to ensure we get the most out of your exercise routine.

Joint health

Your joints act as the hinges on which every movable bit of your body pivots. Your joints absorb the pressure of your body as you move around, allowing you to be flexible without pain or discomfort. With so much pressure exerted every day on your joints, it’s vital to make sure you are regularly exercising these muscles and providing yourself the right foods to promote good joints.

Nutrients for joint health

Omega 3 fatty acids – Omega 3 acids are commonly recommended for those who suffer from arthritis or other inflammatory conditions but can also be great for anyone who is concerned about flexibility. Omega 3 has been found to soothe and reduce inflammation that can be caused by constant or repeated movement. Common sources of Omega 3 acids include: oily fish like mackerel, salmon or sardines. It can also be found in various vegetables such as: Kale, brussel sprouts, spinach and seaweed.

Antioxidants – When an area of our body becomes inflamed our body can release harmful compounds called “free radicals”. Free radicals can have a number of harmful effects on our body including cardiovascular issues, cataracts and cancer. Another undesirable effect of free radicals is that they can cause excessive inflammation which can lead to conditions like arthritis. Antioxidants are a type of molecule which is designed to track down and destroy free radicals. Therefore it is important that you consume antioxidants to avoid a build up of free radicals and the health problems that come with them. Common sources of antioxidants include: vitamin rich berries such as strawberries, raspberries or blueberries, walnuts, spinach and many more.

Muscle strength 

Our muscles facilitate all the physical activity we undergo during the day and support our bones and limbs as we move them. It’s important when doing exercise that you eat the right kinds of food to promote muscle growth and recovery. Here are some of the most common nutrients you should be eating when promoting muscle growth.

Protein – When we talk about exercise and nutrition one of the most commonly talked about nutrients is protein. Protein should make up a large part of our diet as it’s essential for promoting muscle growth. Studies have shown that our need for protein actually increases as we get older. As we get older it becomes more important to keep moving to maintain muscle strength, so it is important that if you are exercising regularly that you consume the right levels of protein. Common sources of protein include dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese but also meat, pulses and beans. 

Magnesium – Most of the energy we expend comes from a molecule called ATP (Adenosine triphosphate) which captures the energy from food we consume and converts it into usable energy. ATP production is dependent on us being amply fuelled with magnesium and is one of the most essential nutrients needed to stay hydrated. Studies have also shown that magnesium can help ease post workout recovery and help muscles to relax after exercise. Some common sources of magnesium include: spinach, avocado, bananas, whole grains, cashews and almonds.

Bone health 

Our bones are the supporting structure for our internal organs and all the movement we undergo during the day. Therefore if we want to exercise it’s important we are eating the right things to support our bones and avoid injury. 

Calcium – Although many of the fallacies around adult calcium consumption have been disproved, Calcium is still a vital part of our diet to protect and strengthen bones. Calcium is a major component in the structure of our bones and without the adequate amount we can become prone to fractures and weaknesses. Some common sources of calcium include dairy products such as milk and yoghurt but can also be found is edamame beans, kale, almond and oily fish

Vitamins D & K – Vitamin D has a few great benefits for our bodies. When it comes to bone health, vitamin D3 can help the body absorb calcium properly, which helps support bone structure and prevent injury. Vitamin K2 when combined with vitamin D3 can help get calcium to the place your body needs it most. Common sources of both vitamins include: leafy greens, fermented legumes and fatty animal sourced food such as egg yolks and liver.

Conclusion

When trying to improve our mobility, exercise is one of our best tools. However the positive effects of this can be negated or even put you at risk of injury if you are not providing the right fuel for your body to work with. Make sure if you are starting a new exercise routine that you are supporting your joints, bones and muscles as they support your body and internal organs. By eating well and healthily you can make sure the exercise you do is efficient and bound to help get you moving again.

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