Keeping those achy joints working this winter

Ask anyone with achy, arthritic joints what they do on cold, short days, and the answer is, “Stay inside and stay warm.” We YOU Docs get that, having shivered through last winter’s record-breaking freeze-outs ourselves.

But please add a third “stay” to that list: Stay inside, stay warm and stay active.

Turns out that as soon as the days turn shorter, people with arthritis spend three additional hours indoors. Doing what? Sitting around. It’s rarely about the weather; it’s about running out of daylight.

Oops. When you don’t move, your joints get stiffer, even if you don’t have arthritis. Activity keeps them flexible and strengthens muscles, which act as support systems for joints. Second, sitting is as risky as trans fats, icy

sidewalks and cruise-ship buffets. Hours of sitting messes up your blood sugar and blood pressure, and ups your odds of breast and colon cancer.

CHEW GUM, LOSE WEIGHT?

It sounds so promising: If you chew sugar-free gum for 20 minutes three times during the morning, you’ll naturally eat almost 70 fewer calories at lunch and won’t compensate for it later in the day. Plus you’ll burn a few extra calories doing all that chewing. Keep it up for a year, and you could lose eight pounds without even trying.

It was one of those small, quirky studies (35 people) that got all kinds of media attention two years ago … and led to a larger follow-up study that included 201 people, all overweight.

The just-in upshot? If only.

After eight weeks, there was no significant weight-loss difference between the gum chewers and the gum-free group.

Still, it wasn’t a total wash. Everyone in both groups was trying to lose weight and got minimal help doing it. Yet both groups emerged with somewhat smaller waists and healthier blood pressure. And the gum group said, mildly, that chewing curbed snack cravings, helped them stay on their diets and trimmed nighttime eating. So — you guessed it — there’ll likely be another study.

The YOU Docs — Mehmet Oz, host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic — are the authors of “YOU: Losing Weight.” For more information go to www.RealAge.com.

FeaturesHealth & FitnessMehmet OzMichael RoizenYou Docs

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