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News Letter

Home Health Education Living With Joint Pain
Exercise and Weight Loss: A Simple Regimen that Could Change Your Life Print E-mail

Many Americans, who suffer from arthritis, battle to maintain a healthy weight. In fact, about one in 10 of all U.S. adults suffer from knee osteoarthritis, a condition in which the tissue between the joints in the knee gets worn down according to the University of Florida, Division of Rheumatology. Many people struggle with weight gain. However, people with arthritis may have an even tougher time shedding extra pounds. Their arthritis pain causes fatigue and stiffness, which can discourage physical activity. This creates a harmful cycle. The extra weight makes arthritis worse by putting extra pressure on the weight-bearing joints of the body, especially in the knees, hips and ankles.

Study Highlights a Straightforward Regimen of Diet and Exercise

There are many ways arthritis sufferers can cope with their pain, ranging from prescription medications to joint replacement surgery. While there is no cure for arthritis, one recent study shows how a simple regimen of diet and exercise can significantly reduce the symptoms associated with knee osteoarthritis.

This pilot study took place at the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. According to the National Library of Medicine's Website at www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, the study set out to explore the relationship between diet, exercise and weight loss in overweight older adults who suffered from knee osteoarthritis. Several factors were measured, including gait, strength, knee pain, cartilage degradation, and physical function.

Over a period of six months, two groups of participants began therapy regimens. The first group had both exercise programs and dietary restrictions; the second only exercise. At the end of the study, the exercise and diet group lost four times more weight than the exercise-only group. However, according to the study, significant physical improvements were reported in both groups. Key benefits of these programs include less pain and disability and greater ease of walking.

Weight Management is a Key in Avoiding or Delaying the Onset of Osteoarthritis

The Arthritis Foundation agrees that weight management is a key factor for not only coping with osteoarthritis, but in helping to avoid it altogether. In their brochure about osteoarthritis, the Foundation states that being overweight increases the odds that a person will suffer from knee osteoarthritis later in life.

As the Wake Forest study and the Arthritis Foundation literature report, when diet and exercise are incorporated into the lives of those who suffer from knee osteoarthritis, their quality of life is greatly improved.

  • In particular, a diet with adequate protein and calcium is especially important. The Arthritis Foundation explains that when arthritis flares up, most sufferers lose their appetites and don't take in adequate nutrients.
  • In addition, the Foundation recommends no more than modest alcohol consumption and not smoking for most sufferers.

Exercises that Work for People with Arthritis

Most people who suffer from knee osteoarthritis find activity of any kind painful, which can lead to a sedentary lifestyle and gradual weight gain. Thankfully, there are many exercises arthritis sufferers can do to strengthen their painful joints and reduce excess body weight. Swimming, for example, is a popular form of exercise because the water's buoyancy provides a no-impact work out. Riding a bike and walking are two of the most beneficial exercises for arthritis sufferers that cause the least amount of damage to arthritis joints. Yoga can ease arthritis symptoms because it encourages movement while providing a gentle exercise and relaxation program. It improves muscle tone, joint flexibility, and may relieve inflammation and joint pain. By working closely with their physicians, sufferers can begin an exercise regimen that fits well with their individual needs and lifestyles.

 

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Community Talk July 28, 2014 6:30pm

Join Dr. Nicholas Abidi, M.D., Dr. Peter Reynolds, M.D. and  Dr. Christian Heywood, M.D. as they discuss knee and hip pain and the available treatment options.

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