4 Lifestyle Tips for Managing Arthritis

Whether you suffer from the autoimmune disorder rheumatoid arthritis, or you’ve developed osteoarthritis from wear and tear on your joints, you don’t have to put up with aches and pains.

By adopting a few new habits, you can subdue some of the painful symptoms of arthritis. You may even be able to cut down on your medications.

Kimberly Bolling, MD, an expert physician in Bowie, Maryland, wants you to have the healthiest joints possible. Here she outlines a few of the habits you can adopt to keep your arthritis under control.

1. Slim down

If you’re overweight or obese, those extra pounds literally pound your joints. When you lose weight, you take pressure off your joints so they can move more freely. Losing weight also improves other aspects of your health, including your heart, circulatory system, and your blood sugar levels.

Best of all, if you have arthritis in your knees, you get four times the benefits for every pound you lose: Each lost pound removes about four pounds of pressure from your knees! If you lose 20 pounds, you’re giving your knees an 80-pound stress break.

Trimming off the extra fat also lowers inflammation in your body. Fatty tissue releases pro-inflammatory chemicals that wreak havoc on your body, especially your joints. The less fat you have, the fewer pro-inflammatory chemicals your body produces.

2. Swim more

If you loved to hit the water as a kid, indulge yourself as much as you can. Swimming is one of the best ways to get the aerobic exercise your body needs without stressing your joints. When you swim, you also develop arm, leg, and core strength that helps support your body. 

However, swimming can’t be your only form of exercise because it doesn’t create the healthy stress that your bone cells need to keep regenerating themselves. So, walk to and from the pool, lake, or beach, even if that means you have to park a few blocks away. 

Mixing swimming with walking ensures you get both cardiovascular and bone-protecting effects from your exercise regimen.

3. Be colorful

Adding wholesome, whole foods to your diet is a satisfying way to fill up without feeling stuffed. Look for the most colorful fresh vegetables and fruits in the grocery store. Shop around the perimeter of the store and avoid the aisles, where all of the processed foods are kept. 

Foods richest in vitamins and phytonutrients “advertise” themselves with bold, bright colors. Load up your plate with a palette of hues that’ll tickle your palate, such as:

Purple

Purple cabbage, beets, blueberries, blackberries, plums, grapes, passion fruit, acai  

Orange

Carrots, sweet potatoes, peppers, persimmons, oranges, blood oranges, squash, pumpkin, mangoes

Green

Collards, broccoli, lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green pepper, spinach

Red

Strawberries, apples, raspberries, radishes, pomegranates, cherries, watermelon

If you have diabetes, talk to Dr. Bolling about how much fresh fruit is safe to eat. If you have arthritis, you might want to avoid fruits and vegetables from the nightshade family — such as eggplants, tomatoes, and potatoes — because they trigger inflammation in sensitive individuals.

4. Take it easy

Really? You don’t have to do anything? 

That’s right, getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night, taking breaks from sitting every 30 minutes by moving around, and spending quiet “me” time are easy ways to improve your overall health and your arthritis, too. 

If you’re having trouble sleeping at night, talk to Dr. Bolling. You may have a sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea, or a hormonal imbalance, that she can correct. 

Prolonged sitting or standing can both make your joints stiff and painful. Set a timer for every half hour as a reminder to stretch. If you’ve been standing, try to take a short sitting break. 

Sitting for more than 30 minutes is also bad for your general health. Take a five-minute walk, stretch, and refocus your attention on something other than work so you can return to your task invigorated and refreshed.

Spend a few minutes every day sitting or strolling quietly. You can meditate, pray, or do deep breathing exercises to keep yourself calm and focused.

If you suffer from arthritis pain, or need help losing weight, call our Bowie, Maryland, office today at 301-352-0090 or request an appointment online. You can also send a message to Dr. Bolling and the team here on our website.

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