Osteoarthritis, a painful condition that afflicts your joints as you age, can make your body feel stiff and uncomfortable. Common arthritis joint symptoms include swelling, pain, stiffness and decreased range of motion. Fortunately, there are ways to manage this problem, and exercise and good nutrition can play a part. How? Practicing these healthy behaviors can strengthen your muscles and decrease inflammation.
Physical fitness is good for a person’s overall well-being. Among the benefits for people with arthritis: It strengthens the muscles around your joints, helps maintain bone strength, assists with weight control, strengthens overall quality of life and improves balance. If you have arthritis, check with your doctor regarding the types of movements you can perform. In general, the following exercises can provide you healthy benefits and ease joint pain.
- Range-of-motion exercises. These exercises, which can be done daily, include movements such as raising your arms over your head or rolling your shoulders forward and backward.
- Strengthening exercises. These exercises help build strong muscles that support and protect your joints. Weight training is a strengthening exercise that can help you maintain or increase your muscle strength.
- Aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercises can improve your cardiovascular health, help you control your weight and give you more stamina and energy. Low-impact aerobic exercises that are easier on your joints include walking, bicycling, swimming and using an elliptical machine. Try to work your way up to 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic exercise per week.
- Gentle exercises. Body awareness exercises, such as gentle forms of yoga or tai chi, can help to improve balance, prevent falls and promote relaxation.
While nutrition may not treat osteoarthritis, it can help to control the condition and improve your overall wellness. Here are ways to incorporate good dietary behaviors to help you feel better.
- Reduce caloric intake. Eating less means losing weight, and that could translate to less stress on the joints. To reduce calories, take smaller portions, avoid sugary foods and drinks, and eat mostly plant-based foods.
- Eat more Omega-3s. These fatty acids, found in fish including trout, salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna and sardines, reduce inflammation in the body. This results in reduced joint pain and morning stiffness.
- Indulge in fruits and vegetables. Many of these are filled with antioxidants, which protect cells from damage. Some antioxidants found in certain fruits and vegetables help reduce joint inflammation and pain.
- Use olive oil in place of fats. Olive oil may help to prevent inflammation. To incorporate olive oil into your diet without adding calories, replace other fats, such as butter, with it.
- Get your vitamin C. This vitamin helps to build collagen and connective tissue. Many foods have it. They include: citrus fruits, red peppers, strawberries, broccoli and cabbage.