Lifestyle modifications for general health: For patients that wish to manage osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, nothing is more impactful than lifestyle modification including weight loss and muscle strengthening. The pain relief from lifestyle modification can help forego the need for medications, injections, and even surgery. In situations where medical and surgical treatment is needed despite lifestyle modification, people have better outcomes when those medical and surgical treatments are paired with weight loss and muscle strengthening.
These are some simple concepts for losing weight and getting more consistent with exercise:
- Eliminate the biggest negative. This includes calorie containing beverages. Do not drink your calories. Aside from sugar sweetened beverages, any food with sugar added, processed carbohydrates, processed meats, and calorie dense dressings, butter, and gravy should be limited or eliminated.
- Pick ONE thing and make the change. Making several changes at once may be difficult to keep track of and may tax your willpower to the point of frequent failures. Successes in one change at a time can help you gain momentum.
- Choose foods high in fiber and drink water. If there are two ingredients the American diet lacks most glaringly, it is water and fiber. Aside from keeping your digestive system moving along, fiber helps encourage the biome of your gut, which can have major advantages for overall health.
- Eat nuts and beans. Find places to substitute these food choices for breads and meats wherever possible. Instead of chicken on your salad, get walnuts. Instead of bread with your soup, get extra beans.
- Eat fruits and vegetables. The color containing phytochemical components of these whole food choices have anti-inflammatory properties and encourage your body to heal. Try to eat a variety of these foods using the colors of the rainbow (fruits and veggies, not candy) as a goal each day.
- Exercise recommendations for 300 minutes per week can be difficult to initiate and sustain. Any amount of exercise at all can have advantages for your system. Focus on exercises that are available without having to travel to the gym. Leg extensions, body weight squats, and planks are examples of exercises that can be done anywhere. Start with as little as five minutes to get yourself in a routine. Make an oath to yourself to exercise 5 days in a row and get it done. Build slowly and listen to your body.
- Cardiovascular exercise is good, but for those with arthritis, impact of walking, especially the treadmill can increase pain. Aquatics, bicycle, the rower, and other Non weight-bearing exercises can have the cardiovascular benefits without the wear and tear. Also, as above, cardio is not the be all and end all. Resistance exercise has metabolic benefits and helps to stabilize joints.
- Tracking your progress helps. Use MyFitnessPal to track calories in and calories burned. There are many exercise programs available, but we find this one from the NYTimes is a good start for many people.