Dealing with arthritis: 4 ways to keep fit

Arthritis is no longer an age-related condition. Doctors now say that a sedentary lifestyle and imbalanced diet could advance its onset.

Do you have joint pain or experience stiffness after sitting for long hours in the office? Do you find it really difficult to climb stairs because of that stiffness in your knees and other aches in your joints? Chances are that you could be suffering from arthritis. Arthritis, a very common health problem in today’s world, sends over 14 per cent of the Indian population to their doctors for help every year. “Earlier, arthritis was believed to be associated with age-related degeneration. However, with sedentary lifestyles, imbalanced diet and poor work-life balance, more and more people in the early 30s are visiting the doctor’s clinic,” says Dr Bharat Bhushan Kukreja, a Guwahati-based orthopedic surgeon. There are over 100 types of arthritis identified in the medical world. However, broadly, the condition can be divided into two types: osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), which is mostly common with older people and relates to the wear-and-tear of the cartilage. The second type is rheumatoid arthritis (RA), a chronic progressive disease that causes inflammation in the joints, resulting in painful deformity and immobility, especially in the fingers, wrists, feet and ankles. RA can affect people of any age, including children under 16. Though analgesic and anti-inflammatory drugs are common medications to help reduce the pain and inflammation, changes to ones lifestyle and inclusion of a healthy diet and regular exercise are crucial while dealing with the pain or even trying to delay its on-set. The latter is actually a better option since “the regular, chronic use of these types of medications (for arthritis aches and pains) are associated with significant, and very serious, side effects such as kidney and/or liver damage,” says Dr Kukreja. In such a scenario, here are some effective measures that can provide some relief to people suffering from arthritis: 1) Watch your weight. Exercise: One of the main reasons for arthritis pain is excessive weight. The more pressure you put on your joints, the faster your tissues will wear off. Start with low-impact exercises like walking. According to a research at Boston University, walking an hour a day will go a long way to keep you fit. “Walking not only builds muscle strength and flexibility, it also helps reduce arthritic pain,” says the study. 2) Keep a balanced diet: Sticking to a well-balanced diet is an absolute must. Explains Dr Kukreja, “Apart from adding more green vegetables and fruits to your diet, eat more fibre-rich foods to maintain a healthy weight. Limiting fat and white carbs is also a good idea.” 3) Top up on Vitamin D: Also called the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D deficiency is a one of the most common problems in India today. The vitamin is also responsible for maintaining calcium homeostasis to prevent osteoporosis and maintain bone health in the body, which is why Dr Kukreja says that keeping one’s Vitamin D levels up is a good way to prevent arthritis or strengthen your joints. 4) Drink more water: We should not need a reason to drink water. However, in case you want one, here you go: Drinking water can prevent arthritis. One of the most important things that water does is lubing up your joints for maximum and pain-free movement. The cartilage in the joints is made up mostly of water, which is what makes it such a great cushion. If there is not enough water in your joints, bones get brittle, thereby, making it much easier to crack. Aim to drink at least 8-10 glasses of water every day.