Your lifestyle choices can have a significant impact on your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
Exercise: Exercise can have many benefits, including keeping your bones, joints and heart healthy and improving muscle flexibility and strength. Physical activity can also help reduce stress. For more information about physical activity and exercising, click here.
Eat a healthy diet: Eating a healthy diet is important whether you have rheumatoid arthritis or not. Try to limit the amount of fatty, sugary and processed foods you eat. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins can help too. For more information about healthy eating, click here.
Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is always important. If you are not getting enough sleep, try to cut down on tea, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, as well as the amount of alcohol you drink. Simple stretching exercises before bed may also help improve your sleep. Gentle exercise such as meditation and yoga or deep/rhythmic breathing techniques can also be effective in helping you sleep. If you aren’t sleeping well due to pain or other reasons, speak with your doctor.
Weight reduction: Weight reduction is important, since being overweight places an extra burden on weight-bearing joints such as your knees and hips. Your rheumatoid arthritis may limit the amount of exercise you can do, but it is important that you adapt your diet according to your energy needs, so you can maintain a healthy weight. If you are less active, you need to consume fewer calories. However, it is important that you do not lose out on the vitamins and minerals your body needs to function properly. For more information about healthy eating and exercise, click here.
Take time out to relax: Rheumatoid arthritis itself causes fatigue and the strain of dealing with pain and limited activities also can make you tired. You should take short breaks in between tasks during your daily routine. Relaxation techniques such as meditation and yoga can also help relieve stress, which can be a trigger for RA flare-ups.
Surround yourself with support: Even if your family is supportive, joining a support group can also help, as you will be surrounded by people with RA who are dealing with the same issues you are. Joining a group will also give you the opportunity to be social and meet new people. To find a group near you, check with your local Arthritis Foundation.
Follow your treatment plan: Be sure to go to all your doctor’s appointments. Follow your doctor’s instructions regarding any medications you might be taking. If you experience side effects from medications prescribed by your doctor, please discuss your concerns with him or her.