Arthritis is a disease of the joints where inflammation causes joint stiffness and pain. Due to the inflammation and pain, it may be very difficult to move or may prevent you from moving the injured joints at all. This disease is more common in women compared to men and in people who are overweight compared to those that are not. Osteoarthritis (OA) and Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are the two most common types of arthritis. OA is caused by the body’s natural breakdown of cartilage, the connective tissues in your joints, and affects millions of people worldwide. Although any of your joints can be affected by this illness, those in the hips, spine, and knees are especially prone to it. This disease is far reaching and you’re more susceptible to it if you have a family history of it. A lot of causes can’t be changed, such as lower estrogen levels in women as they age, less cartilage cells in both men and women over time, etc. To reduce your chances of becoming one of the millions with this crippling disease, here are some exercises and diet strategies to follow:
- Keep an eye on your weight
- Extra weight causes extra stress on your joints which in turn makes . Each added pound of weight you have is the equivalent of four added pounds of stress on your weight bearing joints such as your hips and knees. Fat tissues also promote inflammation by producing proteins called cytokines that attack cartilage. For any person that is not severely overweight, losing even just a few pounds can cut your risk of developing OA by a half.
- Watching your blood sugar can also be very helpful. Diabetes, alters the way in which the body regulates blood sugar which accelerates the formation of molecules that stiffen cartilage. Diabetes can also trigger inflammation that leads to cartilage loss. The connection between diabetes and joint damage is one of the factors explaining how this disease affects so many people.
- Short and simple exercises like stretching, clenching your fists, or walking can seriously reduce your risk of OA. Not only will it help you control your weight by strengthening your heart and lowering your risk for diabetes, but it also strengthens your joints and surrounding muscles that stabilize your hips and knees. As long as you’re moving and listening to your body – taking breaks from exercising that leave you feeling sore – you will be more prepared to fight off OA.
- Take rest days
- Because exercising is taxing on the body, it’s important to take rest days. It is recommended that you spend at least 150 minutes a week performing moderately intense exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise. This leaves 9,930 or 10,005 minutes to complete self goals, run errands, go to work, and SLEEP! You need time to recover from exercising so that your body can rebuild itself after the stress from a good workout.
- Eat right
- Because OA is caused by severe inflammation, you want to incorporate foods possessing anti-inflammatory properties into your diet. Some of the most anti-inflammatory rich foods are:
- Bok Choy
Additionally, inflammation releases free radicals, or cell-damaging molecules, that attack body tissue. Antioxidants protect the body from free radicals and recent studies show that they can slow the progression and ease the pain of arthritis. Some of the most antioxidant rich foods are
- Following the Mediterranean diet is a great way to ensure that you’re eating enough antioxidants and anti-inflammatories as it focuses on fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats, while eliminating processed foods and trans fats.
Arthritis takes many forms and unfortunately, many fall victim to the pain and damage it causes. But, simple steps towards a healthier life are instrumental in taking control of your life by not just managing symptoms, but by completely knocking them out.