The feet are often overlooked when it comes to health and fitness. But once they start to hurt, they will quickly remind you of your neglect. Foot fitness can help you avoid disability. It’s never too late to start taking care of your feet. These five strategies will get you off on the right foot.
1. Stretching your feet and ankles regularly may help reduce the incidence of injury as you age. Your footwear should provide appropriate support in the form of comfortable shoes that fit well but aren’t too constrictive.
2. You may want to add over-the-counter cushioning shoe inserts to your shoes if you plan to increase your activity level. As you get older think about incorporating a range of exercise activities into your routine. For example, swimming or bicycling put less pressure on the joints of the foot.
3. Toenail and foot skin health are important, too. The skin grows thinner and drier with age; the nails may become thicker or more brittle. If nails are thick and yellow, it may indicate a health problem. To keep your feet healthy, exercise or massage them to increase circulation. Pay attention to nutrition, too—maintaining overall good health, including eating well, helps your feet stay healthy along with the rest of you.
4. Another good idea is to moisturize your feet regularly so you don’t develop cracks (fissures) in the skin. These can be painful, and leave you open to infection. Pay special attention to the heels, as these can get very dry. However, do not apply lotion or cream between your toes, as this area tends to be moist, and you may end up encouraging some type of fungal or bacterial growth.
5. If you wear nail polish regularly, you may notice that your toenails seem yellow when you remove the polish, likely due to the chemicals and dyes in the polish. To reduce yellowing, remove the nail polish once a week and let your nails "breathe" for a day or two before you polish them again.
For more information on caring for your feet, buy Healthy Feet: Preventing and treating common foot problems, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
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