healthiest habits: person raising her hands to stretch.

Little lifestyle habits and decisions can have a significant impact on your arthritis. 

If you have any form of arthritis, simple lifestyle changes can be the game changer for you. These lifestyle changes can help to manage your symptoms and reduce joint pains and their severity.

Some of these lifestyle changes may require a change of environment or a simple diet adjustment. Still, no matter how simple or challenging these changes are, they build in you the healthiest habits and help you manage your arthritis better.

There are many opinions on which lifestyle changes or habits are effective for managing arthritis. I have compiled a list of what I believe to be the healthiest habits all arthritis patients need to have for better management of the disease. 

Healthiest habits: Ashley Nicole, wrapping her wrists.

Healthiest habits for RA management

Lifestyle changes, dieting, and exercising are the topmost healthiest habits that help to improve the management of any arthritis. Below is a more detailed list:

1. Exercise

As contradictory as exercise sounds to arthritis, it is one of the healthiest habits people living with arthritis should have. It helps to improve joint movement, strengthen muscles, lose weight, and prevent stiffness and inflammation while also helping to improve the psychological health of arthritis warriors.

There are several easy arthritis exercises for the hands, knees, and hips you can try. 

For every exercise you do, the goal is to ensure you do not strain your joints but improve your muscle strength so that your muscles can take the strain off your joints.

2. Diet

There are two significant reasons you need to diet when you have arthritis.

One is to reduce and control your weight. Weight is a factor when it comes to arthritis because your bones carry the weight of your body, and when dealing with arthritis, the most important thing is to relieve your joints and bones of any extra weight. Reducing and putting your weight under control through diet and exercising will help to ease your joints of strain and ultimately reduce the symptoms of arthritis.

Two, dieting means you control the amount and type of specific nutrients you take, which is good because then, you can increase the amounts of anti-inflammatory food and reduce the number of inflammatory foods you consume.

3. Eat on time and frequently

The Arthritis Foundation lists snacking every three hours as one of the healthiest habits people with arthritis should have. Not eating for a minimum of 3 hours reduces your blood sugar, and to be strong enough, you must constantly fill up on energy-giving foods. Think of carbohydrates high in fiber and more proteins rather than unhealthy calories.

4. Take nutritional supplements

Following a strict anti-inflammatory diet, also called an arthritis diet, can help you effectively manage your symptoms, but nutritional supplements also come in handy. Take multivitamins and other supplements like fish, protein, or fiber to ensure you are constantly filled with the necessary nutrients to manage your arthritis.

Your doctor must approve every supplement you use, and you should take them strictly by prescription.

5. Set your own pace

As much as you want to wake up active and in charge of your day, sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way. Set your own pace by dividing your tasks into manageable chunks, and give yourself some break time now and then.

When you are up to the tasks, you can take more.

The goal is to pace yourself according to how your body feels at the moment. 

6. Stress management

Although stress is neither a cause nor a solution to arthritis, according to Psychologist Robert H. Philips on Arthritis Foundation, it can exacerbate the symptoms of arthritis. 

When you can identify the stressors in your life, you can start eliminating them from the source or, at the very least, find a way to reduce them.

If work is too stressful, discuss it with your employer and find a way to balance your work and health. It isn’t far-fetched for you to quit your job if your demands are unmet.

If house chores get too stressful, use adaptive devices, get help or talk to your family.

Note that stress isn’t just physical; you must also eliminate mental stress causes like unhealthy comparisons, insensitive friends, etc.

7. Avoid smoking and drinking

Smoking and excessive drinking can worsen your arthritis symptoms and make your medications non-effective. 

It also increases the risk of having other complicated health diseases like heart and lung disease.

Consult your doctor and be sure that the RA drugs you use will not interact with alcohol. Having a glass of wine might be okay, but it is best to confirm with your doctor.

If you have a habit of smoking or drinking, work with your doctor on how to kick that habit to the curb.

8. Sleep well

Sleeping is an excellent health habit to have, especially when you have to deal with an energy-draining disease like arthritis.

You must get as much as 7-8 hours of sleep to reduce the risk of related disease and stress.

If you have issues sleeping, you can discuss with your doctor to help you with medications that can help you sleep well at night. 

Your sleep condition also matters; you should try sleeping with music on and lights off. You can also try sleeping with earbuds if your environment is too noisy.

9. Protect your joints

The best thing is to protect your joints using joint pads and learn how to lift weights correctly, especially when you do weightlifting.

Try RA Warrior Fitness Wrist Straps!

10. Avoid injuries

Your joints are made up of cartilage, and when you constantly injure your joints due to exercise, accidents, or extreme sports, it will cause your cartilage to wear out quickly. 

When you have arthritis, injuring your joints will make it worse and lead to rapid progression of the disease.

If you need to exercise or participate in sports, it is best to protect your joints and use safety equipment.

11. Use assistive devices

Getting yourself an assistive device has been said to improve the psychological health of people with arthritis. It effectively reduces stress because it keeps you off ‘heavy duty’ tasks that can be burdensome to arthritic joints.

A device as easy as a jar opener can reduce strain on your joints while also preventing you from being frustrated by your inability to open a jar.

12. Self-advocacy

Talking about what you are going through with your friends, family, and coworkers is always healthy. No one knows what you’re going through until you express it. 

Also, advocating for yourself lets people know how you want to be treated and be more willing and happy to help you.

13. Always go for a check-up

You should become besties with your doctor and maybe a bother—just a bit. 

Seriously though, you need to constantly communicate with your doctor and always go for your check-up consistently. It helps your doctor know how you are doing, how your medications are working, and also notice any symptoms or flares on time. 

So, always check with your doctor for any health decisions you need to make, even about your exercise and diet.

healthiest habits: Always go for a check-up with your rheumatologist.

Final Thoughts

Before making any drastic lifestyle changes, you have to consult your primary care provider so you both can regulate the intensity of these changes.

Making these changes will give you control over the disease and help slow the disease progression.

You can combine these healthiest habits, but consider all the pros and cons, including your body limits and health status. Other factors to consider might also include age. 

What lifestyle changes have you made since your diagnosis? Which of the habits do you think is the healthiest?

READ ALSO: 6 Amazing benefits of tracking symptoms of arthritis & how to do it

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