Osteoarthritis is an extremely common medical condition, affecting an estimated 27 million Americans, according to WebMD. While there are many medications, such as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications and prescription drugs, that help manage arthritis symptoms, including pain, stiffness and loss of flexibility, there are also many exercise and dietary changes you can make to help you manage your condition as well.
Though it may be difficult to think about exercising when you suffer from arthritis, regular physical activity is one of the best ways to help manage your symptoms and prevent your condition from worsening. Any type of exercise that involves gentle stretching, such as yoga or tai chi, and movements that increase your joints' ranges of motion are helpful for most arthritis patients. High-impact activities, such as step aerobics and running, are best avoided, particularly if you have arthritis in your hips, knees or ankles.
Strength training to help you increase your muscle strength can also help because it provides your affected joints with more stability and support. It's best to start slowly with any kind of weight training. Walking, bike riding and other low-impact forms of exercise help you keep your heart healthy and get your blood pumping and moving more quickly through your body to help relieve pain.
If you find most forms of exercise too difficult or painful, consider trying water aerobics in a heated pool. Many fitness and aquatic centers offer water aerobics classes, and many are specifically tailored for people with arthritis and other medical conditions that cause chronic pain and limit range of motion. You may find it easier to move around in heated water, and the water provides excellent resistance for strength training exercises. Discuss any new exercise plan with your doctor before starting.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important for everyone, but it's particularly beneficial if you have arthritis. Many healthy foods that contain high levels of vitamin C, like fruits and vegetables can help ease your symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish can also help relieve pain. Overall, it's best to center your diet around fruits and vegetables with some whole grains and healthy fats, such as nuts, chia seeds and avocados. If you eat meat, choose lean cuts, such as turkey and chicken breast as much as possible.
Focusing on your diet also helps with weight loss. If you're overweight, making healthier eating choices and reducing your portion sizes is extremely beneficial. Even losing as little as 10 pounds can make a huge difference in your arthritis symptoms, particularly if you have symptoms in any weight-bearing joints.
Always talk to your doctor before making any major lifestyle changes and before starting or stopping any new supplements or medications. Contact a clinic, like Arthritis Associates of Kingsport, for more help.