Stay Active but Avoid Overuse of any Joint
Home Health Care
Jun 09, 2023
4 min read
DEAR VANESSA, I’ve been diagnosed with arthritis. Besides taking medications, how do I manage my arthritis and keep it from getting worse? I may be living with pain, but my goal is to continue to lead an active life.
Most people with arthritis will experience pain and difficulty moving around. Try to maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise to reduce the strain on your weight-bearing joints. Even a small weight loss can help. Eat a balanced diet to make sure that your body gets all the important nutrients to function. Eat less fat, less sugar, more fruits and vegetables, more oily fish, and plenty of calcium and iron-rich foods. Make sure that your body is fully hydrated, but drink tea and coffee in moderation. Recent studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet is good for arthritis.
Regular and moderate exercise is important for people with arthritis. It helps limit pain, maintains mobility, boosts energy, and keeps muscles strong to support joints. It also helps prevent disability. You may consult with a physical therapist to find a form of exercise which is enjoyable, fun, and suits your lifestyle. A good exercise program will include range-of-motion, strengthening, and aerobic exercise. Be careful about the way you exercise. Your joints may hurt a little during exercise − that’s normal. But if pain lasts more than 1-2 hours afterward, you’re probably pushing too hard. Listen to your body and dont’ overdo it. Build up the routine gradually, and stay motivated and committed. You may also try holistic yet gentle exercises: yoga, tai-chi, and pilates, but let the instructor know you have arthritis. You can work exercise into your daily life by doing housework, doing the dishes, getting up to change the TV channel, playing the piano, gardening, or using the stairs instead of taking elevators or escalators.
Balance exercise with rest. Get a good night’s sleep and follow these tips: don’t eat large meals before bedtime; don’t rely on sleep medications; avoid caffeine at night; and set a regular bedtime. A word of caution: don’t rest too much as your joints may become stiff. Acupuncture and massage may help ease pain, as part of an overall treatment plan. Consult with your doctor first.
Protect your joints by maintaining correct posture. Check how good your posture is by looking in a mirror. When it is good, the body feels more relaxed. Avoid slouching. Learn more about arthritis. Stay positive and focus on what you can do.
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