Sore shoulders. Achy hips. Throbbing knees. Lower back pain. Creaky bones. Regardless of how many birthday candles we have blown out in our lifetime, the mind will continue to tell us we are still 30 years old, that we can bounce out of bed and move throughout the day without limitation. Our physical body does not always agree, and the little aches and pains seem a reminder that the year of 30 candles, or 40 candles, has come and gone. But, are the aches and pains of aging a way of life we need to accept as we get older?

Not necessarily. With a few changes in routine, we can keep the spring in our step and maintain a pain-free vitality we have come to expect and enjoy. UCLA physical therapist Ziya Altug offers an anti-aging program designed to turn back the hands of time. In The Anti-Aging Fitness Prescription, Altug outlines an exercise and stress reduction program in maintaining flexibility and strength of both body and mind; simple skin and hair tips to regain a youthful look; recipes, meal plans and nutrition diary to make the most of our efforts.

While no one is telling us we will eliminate all the aches and pains of aging, there are proactive steps we can take to greatly minimize the annoying pain that creeps into our muscles and joints when we were not paying attention to the calendar. Foremost, is managing weight gain. Carrying around extra weight is hard on the joints. Basically, losing weight results from portion control in eating less — and in eating the right foods.

The more our body hurts, the less we move — the less we move, the more our body hurts. The less we move the more weight we are likely to gain.

Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, walking, swimming, biking, dancing, low-impact sports and exercising with weights are some of the ways to incorporate the kind of exercise that will make a difference as the candles on the cake continue to increase in number.

Stretching exercises add flexibility, weight-bearing exercise add strength. After that, Altug recommends chondroitin and glucosamine supplements, aspirin and/or ibuprofen to manage and control the aches and pains of aging.

Bottom line though, we should not accept the pain that slows us down as a fact of life as we age.