Although there is no cure for RA, there are many simple and effective lifestyle changes you can incorporate to increase joint mobility, reduce your symptoms, manage flares, and slow the progression of bone damage.
Here are a few things our members have done to feel better with RA:
The way you move matters.
- It can be difficult (if not impossible) during a flare-up, but exercise has been shown to help more than it hurts. Exercise can help you manage fatigue, stiffness, and joint pain. We recommend stretching, walking, yoga and tai chi, resistance exercises, bike riding, and aquatic exercises, but be sure to talk to your clinician before starting an exercise plan. Higher-impact exercises like running/jogging and heavy weight lifting can put a lot of stress on your joints. Always remember to avoid overdoing it by listening to your body and planning rest days or breaks.
What you put in your body matters.
- Your diet can have a huge impact on your Rheumatoid Arthritis. First off, a healthy diet can help you maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese increases the pressure on your joints, which can cause pain and strain your mobility. Combining a regular exercise routine with healthy eating builds muscle and reduces fat!
There are also many inflammation fighting and inflammation causing foods. Processed, fried, high-sugar or acidic foods can increase inflammation. Some fruits, vegetables, and fish, on the other hand, can be anti-inflammatory.
- FUN FACT: The Mediterranean diet, which promotes fish, nuts & seeds, olive oil, beans, fruits & veggies, and whole grains, is so rich in anti-inflammatory properties that it has been dubbed The Rheumatoid Arthritis Diet. Give it a try!
- It’s also important to remember is that everybody is unique. By tracking what triggers your flares, you’ll be able to plan the healthy diet that works best for you.
It’s time to quit.
- It’s common knowledge that smoking causes heart disease, certain cancers, and a range of problems for your lungs, but you may be surprised to hear it has also been linked to RA. According to a study published in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, smoking increases your chances of developing RA. Smoking can also limit the effectiveness of treatments for RA, making any existing symptoms worse.
At Pack Health, we help our members identify motivations and triggers related to their smoking, and also provide structured support and accountability for members to cut back and ultimately kick the unhealthy habit to the curb. We also encourage our members to stay away from second-hand smoke, as it can be harmful as well.
You might just need a little support!
- Many of our members associate social and emotional stress with their RA. Achy and painful joints can cause you to cancel your planned engagement, and too many cancellations can leave you feeling discouraged and alone.
- Many people find it important to talk to their friends and family members about what they’re going through and seek out new hobbies and adventures that are compatible with their RA. Many people have also found support and inspiration online. For local support, you can check out the Arthritis Foundation’s website (click here) and/or for folks living in or near bigger cities the RA Warrior website (click here). There are also many great Facebook support groups for people with Rheumatoid Arthritis, or you can also turn to blogs for inspiration.
- If you’re not yet a member of Pack Health and are looking for someone to talk to, you can also get your own personal Health Advisor here.