How you can manage arthritis

Tuesday October 13, 2020
Managing arthritis with diet, exercise and lifestyle

. 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 commonly referred to as pain, discomfort or dysfunction in the joints. It’s often seen in seniors because of a lifetime of wear and tear but can occasionally be seen in younger people as well. The first thing to note is that like a lot of ailments it’s sometimes out of your control. You may not be able to prevent it from taking hold due to a variety of hereditary and genetic factors.

But by committing to a regular exercise plan you can strengthen the area around the joints which lessens the potential for inflammation down the road. It should be said that 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 get stronger over time.

Get into good Exercise Habits

A national health survey recommended 150 minutes of exercise per week. But it seems there is certainly room for improvement as the AIHW states that 75 per cent of people over 65 were not sufficiently active as of 2014/5. This study outlines the correlation between exercise and the management of arthritis and states:

‘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 to 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.

Eating well helps to manage arthritis

In regards to diet, one theme that always emerges is the value of fish. As the Arthritis foundation states:

‘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 the type of fish they 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.’

Similarly, this study makes further observations on the value of dietary interventions:

‘We believe that an ideal meal can include raw or moderately cooked vegetables with addition of spices like turmeric and ginger, seasonal fruits and probiotic yogurt’. These are ‘good sources of natural antioxidants and deliver anti-inflammatory effects.’ It goes on to say that it’s best to avoid processed food and high salt.

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. If you can stay active and lose a little weight you will certainly ease the burden on your knees, hips and joints which is a great first step.

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/

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