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Learn how weight loss can decrease the effects of arthritis and help you live a better, more comfortable, life.

Diet, Exercise, & Arthritis: Managing Your Arthritis Naturally

Weight loss is often a challenge within itself. Add on discomfort from arthritis, dropping those extra pounds can feel overwhelming. Evidence has shown that when those who are overweight with arthritis lose 10 percent of their weight, they have better mobility and 50 percent less pain. With such benefit, how do you get started? We’re here with tips to help you reach your goals!

Diet, Exercise, & Arthritis: Managing Your Arthritis Naturally

Weight loss is often a challenge within itself. Add on the pain and discomfort from arthritis, dropping those extra pounds can feel even more overwhelming.

But there are numerous reasons to lose weight if you have arthritis, including reduced pressure on joints, a lessened risk of remission, and savings on treatment costs. There is also evidence showing overweight people with arthritis who lose 10 percent of their weight have better mobility and 50 percent less pain.

With such benefit tied to dropping extra pounds, how do you get started? From answering how to lose weight with arthritic knees to which foods to incorporate more of, these tips can flourish weight loss goals and overall health.

How to Lose Weight if You Have Arthritis

Consult with A Doctor

Before starting any sort of weight loss plan, you should always consult with a doctor or other healthcare professional. They will help navigate you not only towards an effective program, but ensure the upmost safety during your weight loss journey.

Upon discussion, they will likely make recommendations identified below, including modifying your diet, incorporating exercise, and addressing other lifestyle factors that impact weight and overall health.

Modify Your Diet

Diet plays a large part, if not the largest, in managing weight, arthritis, and overall health.

A nutritional diet for people with arthritis promotes the notion of using "food as medicine," particularly in hopes not only support healthy weight loss, but lower inflammation and joint pain.

A well-balanced, anti-inflammatory diet embodies whole foods, such as whole grains and colorful produce, ensures adequate protein, embraces healthy fat sources, and encourages reducing the intake of refined products such as added sugar and fried foods.

Additional diet-related tips and tricks to lose weight include:

• Using smaller plates
Plate and portion sizes have dramatically enlarged overtime, making it that much easier to overeat. To help reduce such risk, use smaller plates, as there is supportive backing detailing diners who serve themselves with smaller plates tend to serve themselves less, and therefore eat less.

• Balancing the meal plate
To keep portions and calories naturally in check, fill at least half the plate with veggies, a quarter with a lean or plant-based protein, and complement with a whole grain and healthy fat source.

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• Eating mindfully
Eating mindfully is particularly eating based on hunger and satiety cues whilst bringing full awareness of physical and emotional sensations. Recognizing and appreciating the characteristics of foods is also strong groundwork of mindful eating. Being mindful strips away the stigma of indulging in a "bad," "unhealthy," or "fattening" food and encourages the incorporation of all foods in the diet. Mindful eating has been a supported method for weight loss, as evidence shows the practice is associated to lower BMIs.

• Increasing water intake
Water assists in weight loss efforts by regulating metabolism and controlling hunger levels throughout the day. Women are encouraged to drink about 12 cups of fluids each day and men are recommended to 15 cups, particularly in the form of water. If struggling to increase water intake, try these easy hacks or 13 ways to make your water taste better!

Incorporate Exercise

Though you may be "taking it easy" related to discomfort and pain exacerbation. An arthritic exercise plan can help assist in weight loss and the following arthritis-related symptoms:

• Maintain joint movements
• Increase muscle strength and flexibility
• Support strong bones and cartilage
• Lose and maintain weight to reduce added pressure on joints
• Boost overall quality of life

An effective and safe exercise plan for arthritis likely encourages low-impact aerobic exercises, range-of-motion exercises, and resistance training.

• Low-Impact Aerobic Exercises
Aerobic exercise, also known as cardio, helps burn calories to assist in weight loss and improves blood flow. The American Heart Association endorses 150 minutes of aerobic activity weekly, though you should gradually increase exercise to meet recommendations, especially if new to a workout regimen. Walking, biking, and swimming are considered to be low-impact exercises, which take the pressure off the knees and other joints whilst optimizing aerobic function.

• Range-of-Motion Exercises
Also known as stretching, range-of-motion exercises gently straightens and bends the joints in a controlled manner. Stretching is also a key component of a pre- and post-exercise regimen to lower the risk of injury and keep muscles agile.

• Resistance Training
Resistance and strength training helps build strong muscles to stabilize joints and protect against further damage. Use own body weight or added weight to strengthen the primary muscle groups, including legs, arms, shoulders, back, and core.

Also remember, always talk with your primary care provider before jumping into any new exercise regimen. A personal trainer can also help show you how to safely maneuver workouts with proper form.

Consider Other Lifestyle Factors

Although diet and exercise are the foundations of a successful weight loss plan, there are additional factors to consider.

• Ensure Adequate Sleep
Sleep loss can significantly impede on weight loss efforts and even lead to weight gain, as too few hours of quality shuteye can reduce metabolism and energy levels and increase cravings to high-carb and fat foods.

The National Sleep Foundation encourages sleeping seven to nine hours on a regular basis and can be achieved with more ease by formulating a bedtime schedule and reducing caffeine, alcohol, and large meals leading up to bed.

• Manage Stress
While stress is a natural part of daily stressors, too much of it may hinder weight loss results and even exacerbate arthritic symptoms.

When the body stores fuel and energy, slows down metabolism, and dumps out harmful chemicals such as cortisol, which likely contributes to weight gain in the abdominal region. To make matters worse, stress eaters tend to prefer high-carbohydrate foods related to their calming effect, which also are considered to pro-inflammatory.

Manage ongoing stress with stress-relieving relaxing techniques such as exercise, yoga, or meditation.

• Confide in Support
Support is one of the largest influencers of weight loss, as having a strong network of supporters synergizes accountability and motivation.

Support can come from numerable sources, including family members, friends, neighbors, healthcare providers, and even strangers. You can meet new and motivated people in workout classes, local support groups, and online communities.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 07, 2012. Updated on August 01, 2019.


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