By David Green
Veterans are tough. We’re trained to push through, suck it up and fight back. But living in pain doesn’t have to be a fact of life as we age.
That’s why I am committed to being healthy and active. As a former active duty Marine, I’m no stranger to pushing my body to its limits. While I don’t need to be quite as physically strong now, I know staying fit is necessary to live the life I want and for my long-term health.
I work out a few times a week with other veterans. They keep me accountable and in shape. The endorphin release is also a boost for my mental health, which is especially important for veterans who are more likely to experience lapses in mental health. Most of all, staying active with other veterans lets us, collectively, rewrite the narrative about pain and aging.
As a kid, I thought pain was an inevitable part of aging. I saw many of my older family members suffer from autoimmune conditions, including painful arthritis. I knew then that I didn’t want to be limited like they were. And I still don’t. I want to be the grandpa that runs around on the playground with my grandkids, instead of being demoted to watching them from the bench.
Because arthritis is often misunderstood as a natural degression of aging, many people are not as proactive about preventing it as they could be. That’s a mistake. Arthritis causes chronic pain, joint stiffness and swelling. And it is the leading cause of disability in America.
Veterans like me aren’t used to being sidelined – and we don’t have to be. Living in arthritis pain is nonsensical when preventing or minimizing it is possible. By having the right attitude, being physically active and fueling our bodies well, we can live the life we want.
To my fellow veterans, I say, your family and friends need you. Why not extend your longevity by living the healthiest life you can?
David Green is a veteran and a member of the Alliance for Balanced Pain Management.