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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Lifestyle Management

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Tips to Manage Arthritis

When it's cold outside, your arthritis symptoms can worsen. Cold temperatures make muscles, tendons and ligaments tighten. When you tighten up, you increase the risk of joint injury or pain, and you may not want to be active. Lack of exercise weakens the heart and can decrease muscle strength and cause weight gain. Inactivity also causes your joints to become more at risk for injury.

Extra weight means painful joints and weak muscles due to deconditioning. Please keep moving!

Here are a few tips to help stay active and live with arthritis this winter:

  • Fluids: It's very important to drink water. Water helps maintain your body's fluid balance and improve circulation.
  • Diet: Healthy foods can help you fight arthritis by maintaining normal body weight. Eat a healthy balance of fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains, nuts and seeds. A multivitamin may be a good idea if you do not always eat a balanced diet. Most adults do not take in enough dairy products to maintain bone health. Calcium supplements (1,200 mg daily) and vitamin D (800 IU daily) are essential to reduce risk of osteoporosis.
  • Exercise: Walking, yoga and swimming (and other activities) are important. These activities will increase blood flow, bring important oxygen to your body, and help reduce joint pain. Exercise also increases mobility and muscle strength. Remember to stretch gently, so your muscles don't tighten up.
  • Rest: It's important to get regular, consistent sleep to give your body time to heal both from the exercise and cold weather. Good sleep also reduces fatigue and combats the winter “blues.”
  • Warmth: Keep arthritic areas wrapped or protected with warm clothing.
  • Medications: Take your medicine on time every day as prescribed.

Learn more ways to live well with arthritis.

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