On yesterday's radio program, a woman called me to ask about the arthritis pain she was experiencing in her knees. She is not alone. Osteoarthritis of the knees is one of the most common joint disorders. It occurs when the cartilage padding between the bones wears down over time. Additional pressure on the knees, whether from being a Major League catcher or from being overweight, will cause that wearing-down process to progress more quickly.

Arthritis pain can be helped if you take some pressure off the knees by strengthening the quadriceps muscles.

This is a group of four muscles that rest on the front of the thigh. They extend the lower leg , allowing the knee to straighten, and they provide stability when standing. They are the most important muscle group for maintaining the ability to stand and to walk independently. They are a key to preventing falls in older adults.

In just five minutes a day, you can keep your quads strong. Several simple exercises can be done either throughout the day or in one sitting. They are:
1) Seated straight leg raise
2) Lying straight leg raise
3) Quad clench
A diagram of these exercises (and one stretching exercise) can be found here.

By taking care of your quads, you will help prevent arthritis, joint deterioration, falls, disability, and loss of independence. Take a few minutes each day to invest in your quads.

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So I broke my hand 2 weeks ago. The big blue cast that runs from my pinky halfway up my forearm invites the inevitable question, "What happened to you?"

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Two dozen roses met my bride as she walked in the house one afternoon last week. "What are these for?" she asked.
"From now on," I announced, "every time you do what you just did, it's an automatic two dozen roses."
She had just returned from her annual checkup, and it was time again for that test that every woman dreads- the Pap smear.
"Do I really have to keep going through that?" she asked.
"I've watched women die of cervical cancer, honey. Please keep getting tested- I want you to stick around for a while."

It was then that I realized I was behind on my own preventive screening. It was time for my cholesterol test. Why does it seem so much easier to tell others what to do than to do it yourself? It's particularly easy to put off something like an uncomfortable test or procedure, especially when the benefit of going through the hassle is not always clear.

Thankfully, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has put tremendous effort into identifying which screening tests are the most important. Their recommendations are based on decades of research, and the only tests that make the cut are the ones with strong evidence that they save lives.

The USPSTF has published a checklist that summarizes their recommendations.
Your Checklist for Health (Men)
Your Checklist for Health (Women)

So, I'll take the timeless words of Sting and alter them a bit: "If you love someone . . . check their list." Make sure the person or people you love are keeping up. When they do, let them know how much you appreciate it. And while you're at it, make sure you are up to date, too.

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