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How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Weight Loss
How Rheumatoid Arthritis Affects Weight Loss

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that affects over 2 million Americans. Although the symptoms are similar, RA is different from Osteoarthritis. Unlike Osteoarthritis, RA is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your body’s immune system begins to attack your joints. This causes inflammation, joint erosion, and chronic pain. On the other hand, Osteoarthritis is caused by years of wear and tear on the body that wears down the connective tissue in your joints over time. While both conditions are equally serious, Rheumatoid Arthritis can have a unique impact on your health. However, with a few strategic lifestyle changes you may be able to reduce the symptoms of the disease.

Stretching man

Challenges of Having RA

People with RA usually experience chronic pain, stiffness and swollen joints. These conditions can decrease your mobility, flexibility and even your independence. Chronic knee pain can make it difficult to move around freely, kneel, squat, or walk. Stiffness in your hips can decrease your ability to bend over at the waist. Shoulder pain can make it difficult to lift objects, and joint damage in your hands can keep you from doing everyday activities like turning door knobs or opening bottles. A combination of these ailments keeps many people sedentary and makes it hard to lose weight.

How Your Weight Affects Rheumatoid Arthritis

Unfortunately, RA and being overweight are conditions that often occur together. Chronic joint pain makes it difficult to remain active which can lead to weight gain. However, being overweight exacerbates RA symptoms. This is because your joints are supporting more weight than they are designed for, leading to an increased rate of joint degeneration (Harvard Health, Joint Pain). An increased amount of fat cells can also cause inflammation and make RA symptoms worse (Harvard Health, Joint Pain). As a result of these and other obesity related health complications, it may be necessary to lose weight.

Weight Loss For People With RA

Losing weight can reduce some symptoms of RA. Lower weight means there will be less pressure on your joints, which can help slow the rate of joint deterioration and ease pain. According to a study on Arthritis and Rheumatism in overweight adults, losing just one pound of excess weight can remove four pounds of pressure from your knee joints. Also, having a lower weight makes you more mobile. The more mobile and active you are, the easier it will be to lose more weight and further decrease pressure on your joints.

Hands with Rheumatoid arthritis and stress ball

Rheumatoid Arthritis And Losing Weight

While obesity can worsen the symptoms of RA, that does not mean that “thinner is better”. In fact, being underweight can make RA worse in other ways. Losing too much weight too fast can put your health at risk. You should aim for a healthy weight and body composition to improve RA symptoms. Consult with your doctor to set goals and discuss what a healthy weight loss plan looks like for you. That way you can guarantee a safe and successful weight loss journey.

Nutrition and RA

Getting the proper nutrition is one of the foremost ways to improve your health. Although there is no one size fits all diet for people with RA, eating whole foods and eliminating sugary foods is a good place to start. Keeping a food diary is another healthy habit you should adopt. This is a great strategy to help you set goals and keep track of what you eat. A food diary may help you achieve a caloric deficit, or burning more calories than you consume. With consistency, these strategies can help you maintain a healthy body and reduce your RA symptoms.

Salad with vegetables

Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment: Exercise

Exercise is another important habit to Incorporate into your daily routine. Stretching and light resistance training specifically may help protect your joints. Stretching can loosen your body, reduce stiffness, and lower your risk of injury, while light resistance training will build the muscles around your joints and improve your joint stability. As with any fitness routine, be careful and pace yourself. Overworking your body may stress your joints further and do more harm than good.

While it may seem counterintuitive to exercise with joint pain, staying active is one of the best ways to ease RA symptoms. Low impact cardio exercises like water aerobics, swimming, cycling, elliptical, and rowing machines are just a few exercises that you can do to burn fat while being gentle on your joints.  Cardio is great for your heart, reduces stress, helps you sleep better, and reduces your risk of developing chronic diseases.

Finding Lasting Relief

Having Rheumatoid Arthritis can make it hard to lose weight but being overweight can make your RA symptoms worse. Despite this struggle, there are still ways to lose weight while suffering from RA. Getting the proper nutrition and aiming for a caloric deficit will help you lose excess fat. Exercising regularly with cardio, stretching, and light resistance training is another way to burn calories and improve your mobility. With patience and dedication, you can successfully lose weight. Doing so will help reduce your joint pain and improve your overall health and well-being.

What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic condition that affects over 2 million Americans. Although the symptoms are similar, RA is different from Osteoarthritis. Unlike Osteoarthritis, RA is an autoimmune disorder that occurs when your body’s immune system begins to attack your joints. This causes inflammation, joint erosion, and chronic pain. On the other hand, Osteoarthritis is caused by years of wear and tear on the body that wears down the connective tissue in your joints over time. While both conditions are equally serious, Rheumato

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