. Diet, exercise and lifestyle are three keys to how you can manage arthritis

. Keep active, stay moving and avoid slipping into a sedentary lifestyle

. Limit salt, sugar and processed food and incorporate fish and vegetables

Arthritis is referred to as pain, discomfort or dysfunction in the joints. It’s common in seniors because of natural wear and tear but is sometimes seen in younger people.

The first thing to note is that like a lot of ailments it’s sometimes outside of our control. We can’t always prevent them from taking hold due to a variety of hereditary and genetic factors.

Get into good exercise habits

But one of the most important things to do is to get into good exercise habits to strengthen the area around the joints. By doing this you can lessen the potential for inflammation and pain down the road.

Exercise doesn’t have to be taxing or time consuming – it has to be consistent and regular – a couple of times a week so your body can adapt and naturally get stronger over time.

A national health survey recommended 150 minutes per week of exercise. The AIHW states 75 per cent of people over 65 were not sufficiently active as of 2014/5 so there is certainly work to be done.

This study outlines the correlation between exercise and managing arthritis. It says ‘The importance for the inclusion of exercise training in the treatment of RA is now clear and proven.

Exercise in general seems to improve overall function in RA without any proven detrimental effects to disease activity. RA patients should be encouraged to include some form of aerobic and resistance exercise training as part of their routine care.’

While it’s important to exercise regularly, it’s also important to exercise correctly. Your joints are like shock absorbers so you want to treat them well.

Learn and use the right technique so you’re not putting unnecessary stress on the body. Also make it a point to stretch properly as a flexible body is a body less likely to succumb to injury.

Start eating well

In regards to diet, one theme that always emerges is the value of fish. According to the arthritis foundation : ‘Among the most potent edible inflammation fighters are essential fatty acids called omega-3s – particularly the kinds of fatty acids found in fish.’ 

In terms of what type of fish, they go on to say: ‘The best sources of marine omega-3s are fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, sardines and mackerel. Eating a 3- to 6-ounce serving of these fish two to four times a week is recommended for lowering inflammation and protecting the heart.’

This study makes some further observations on dietary interventions and the role they can play:

‘We believe that an ideal meal can include raw or moderately cooked vegetables with addition of spices like turmeric and ginger, seasonal fruits, probiotic yogurt.’ They go on to say that these ‘are good sources of natural antioxidants and deliver anti-inflammatory effects.’

‘The patient should avoid any processed food, high salt, oils, butter, sugar, and animal products. Dietary supplements like vitamin D, cod liver oil, and multivitamins  can also help in managing RA.’

As for managing arthritis day to day there are some common sense principles you can apply. Make the effort to stay active or your condition will deteriorate.

Keep the blood circulating, the joints moving and the body in motion to alleviate some of the pain. Avoid living a sedentary lifestyle which only exacerbates the condition.

Walking and swimming are low impact exercises that are a great way of doing this. It also helps you to lose weight which eases the burden on your knees, hips and joints.

References

ABS stats

https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-active-evidence.htm

AIHW stats

https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/australias-health-2018/contents/indicators-of-australias-health/physical-inactivity

NCBI

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3042669/

Arthritis Foundation

https://www.arthritis.org/health-wellness/healthy-living/nutrition/healthy-eating/best-fish-for-arthritis

NCBI

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5682732/