Why should people with arthritis exercise

Curb inflammation with exercise and diet

Rheumatoid arthritis

02/25/19 (ams). In addition to drug treatment, rheumatism patients have other important options for influencing their quality of life. Movement is the second pillar in the therapy of rheumatoid arthritis, the most common form of inflammatory rheumatism. In the phases between attacks and with rheumatism in the early stages, it is important to get up, even if you are exhausted or not pain-free. Even with a wholesome diet, patients can have a positive effect on the disease. What you should look out for when exercising and eating, explains Dr. Astrid Maross, doctor in the AOK Federal Association.

Many people with inflammatory rheumatism tend to move as little as possible: because the joints hurt, because they are afraid of damaging the joints even more, or because they are afraid of causing a flare-up of the disease, or because the disease makes them very exhausted are. In fact, it used to be the advice to take it easy. It's different today. "If rheumatism patients do not move enough, the treatment remains below its potential," says doctor Dr. Maross. "Physical activity also improves the health of rheumatism patients and helps to keep sick joints flexible."

Ready-to-broadcast radio o-tones with Dr. Astrid Maross, doctor in the AOK Federal Association

Rheumatism is a collective term for more than 100 different forms of illness. Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common form of inflammatory rheumatism. Around one percent of the population is affected, including twice as many women as men. In rheumatoid arthritis (previously also called chronic polyarthritis), the synovial membrane becomes inflamed - probably due to a malfunction of the immune system. The disease usually begins after the age of 50. Initially, the joints on the fingers and toes are often affected, they hurt and swell. The so-called morning stiffness is characteristic: when you wake up, the joints are particularly immobile. Over the course of weeks and months, more and more joints can become ill. In addition to drugs that are intended to relieve pain and stop the progression of the disease, the treatment also consists of non-drug methods, depending on the stage and severity of the disease. Courses on coping with pain, advice on social law and self-help groups can be additional modules.

Endurance training increases the quality of life

Studies have shown that the quality of life increases with endurance training two to three times a week. The patients are less restricted in their everyday life and the pain is reduced. Other studies have looked at strengthening exercises with light weights or equipment: These have also reduced the impairment caused by the disease. "This suggests that exercise can inhibit inflammation-promoting messenger substances in the body," said Dr. Maross. In general, the research shows that physical activity can improve fitness, strength and mobility in rheumatoid patients and alleviate rheumatoid fatigue. As an additional effect, physical activity has a positive effect on the heart and circulation, which is particularly important for rheumatism patients because they are at a higher risk of heart attacks and strokes. In addition, exercise prevents osteoporosis, popularly known as bone loss - also a risk with rheumatic diseases. Sports that are gentle on the joints and do not lead to more discomfort are suitable for rheumatism patients. Swimming and aqua aerobics - especially in lukewarm water -, cycling, (Nordic) walking, tai chi, yoga or training on equipment are recommended. Sports, on the other hand, in which strong vibrations, bad posture and one-sided loads occur, are out of the question. Tennis, soccer, handball, basketball, for example, are more likely to be eliminated. Whatever applies: In times of acute inflammation, training should be stopped. The German Rheumatism League, together with physiotherapists, has developed so-called functional training especially for rheumatism sufferers. The special exercises serve to keep the sick joints flexible in their functions. Movement without strain is the principle.

Pay attention to nutrition

A balanced diet that prevents flare-ups can also complement the treatment of rheumatism. If you change your diet and thus reduce your weight in the long term, you also relieve your joints. Rheumatism patients should avoid foods that are high in arachidonic acid, as larger amounts promote inflammation. Arachidonic acid is found in most animal foods, such as meat, sausage, milk, cheese, cream or eggs. It is therefore important to remove these foods from the menu as much as possible. With a maximum of two small portions of meat per week, the recommended maximum amount of 350 milligrams of arachidonic acid per week has already been reached.

Food can have anti-inflammatory effects

On the other hand, foods with the fatty acids in fish oil - i.e. fatty sea fish such as herring, salmon and mackerel - have an anti-inflammatory effect. On the other hand, foods with linoleic acid have an anti-inflammatory effect. Linoleic acid is mainly found in vegetable oils such as linseed, rapeseed, wheat germ, soy and walnut oils. Plant-based foods - vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, herbs and spices - do not contain arachidonic acid, but instead contain many antioxidant substances that can also reduce inflammation. Rheumatism patients do not have to torment themselves. You can indulge in a wholesome diet that is high in vegetables, legumes, nuts, vegetable oils and, if possible, sea fish twice a week. In your exercise program, too, the focus must not only be on combating pain. Dr. Maross: "Patients should follow their preferences and look for a sport or form of exercise that is good for them and fun."

Additional Information:

To the ams guide 02/19

© 2016 AOK Federal Association