Shedding light on arthritis
May is Arthritis Awareness Month, a recognition that aims to shine light on the staggering numbers of people affected by arthritis and to bring attention to developing research.
Arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and includes symptoms such as joint swelling, pain and stiffness. Symptoms can come and go, and range from mild to severe. They can remain the same or worsen over time. Though it may seem otherwise considering the number of people affected by the disease, arthritis is not a normal part of aging according to the CDC.
The good news is that there are actionable steps people can take to ease the symptoms, manage pain, and to live a healthier life overall. Read on to discover ways to cope with arthritis, whether for yourself or for a loved one.
Not surprisingly, physical activity can have a major impact on people with arthritis. According to the CDC, people with arthritis can reduce their pain and improve mobility by about 40 percent with regular exercise. And taking into account that one in three adults with arthritis are inactive means that there’s room for improvement.
A lower weight can also reduce joint pain, since weight adds stress to bones. In fact, every pound of weight loss equals four less pounds of weight on the knees, according to the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance. The organization has resources on how to eat healthier and several studies on how weight correlates with arthritis.
Being physically active can lessen the symptoms of arthritis through activities that improve flexibility, strength and endurance. If you’re wondering where to start on a healthier path for yourself or a loved one, the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk with Ease program is a good place to being. Studies show the program is proven to increase strength, balance, and walking pace, and to ease the pain and discomfort of arthritis. By demonstrating safe ways to integrate exercise into your daily routine, the program can build confidence in a person’s ability to be physically active.
Participants can choose between a self-guided course or follow along in a community setting. There’s also an option to join group sessions that meet three times a week for six weeks, depending on your location and when it feels safe to be in closer contact with others.
For other resources, the foundation’s website has videos on chair yoga, a podcast about living with arthritis and tips on how to lessen stress, which can ignite flare-ups. In addition, you can read about ways to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
Beyond maintaining or reaching a healthy weight, there are other ways to live a more balanced life with arthritis. Learning how to cope with the pain, tiredness, anxiety and depression that often accompanies arthritis is an important step to a person’s wellbeing. To start with, health care professionals can offer suggestions and resources to manage mental health.
With more research and awareness of the disease comes more ways to lead a fulfilling life with less pain.