Midway through my freshman year at Providence College I joined the ROTC program. PT, or physical training, was a big part of Army life so running became part of my daily routine back then. Thirty years later, it still is. Because I run for exercise and enjoyment, my distance, speed and frequency have varied from year-to-year, but I probably averaged three miles per day, three days per week throughout that time period. By that measure, I’ve run more than 14,000 miles which means my knees have taken quite a pounding. About ten years ago in the aftermath of arthroscopic surgery on my knee for torn cartilage (suffered while doing household chores, not while running), I started taking daily tablets containing “glucosamine and chondroitin” which are supposed to help aging joints. Medical studies on the efficacy of these over-the-counter supplements are inconclusive, with some saying they do nothing and others saying they might help. From my own experience, they do provide some relief. In the past, if I’ve run out and gone a few days without, knee pain returns. But as long as I take my daily dose, I’m pretty much pain free.
The reason I write about this today is that a story in today’s New York Times reports that society is about to get hit by a vigorous public relations campaign for a new drink called “Elations”, a juice drink laced with liquid glucosamine and chondroitin. While part of the target audience are those who have trouble taking pills, the main focus is on aging Baby Boomers. As the director of marketing for the company that produces Elations puts it, “Baby boomers view themselves as forever young, and they think taking pills feels like taking medicine and like a symbol of feeling old or sick.”
So if you haven’t been exercising because taking pills to suppress joint pain makes you feel old, pick up some Elations and get moving.