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5 Healthy Habits to Consider If You Have Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatologist checking finger joints for RA symptomsRheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be a crippling disease, but we’ve also learned that patients can make their lives significantly better by incorporating more healthy lifestyle choices into their daily routines. Even if you have not been diagnosed with this chronic condition, this advice will help mitigate your risk.

As the demands of the daily routine increase, many people find themselves making more and more unhealthy lifestyle choices. After a full day at work or with the kids, grabbing some fast-food and vegging out in front of the TV can be extremely tempting. This becomes an even greater challenge if you’re trying to manage rheumatoid arthritis at the same time.

The following will cover 5 bad health habits that you should consider ditching as soon as possible if you’ve been diagnosed with this chronic inflammatory disease (check out our RA diagnostic tests page for more information). Remember that rheumatoid arthritis is a progressive disease, so the sooner the better!

Stop Smoking

One particular clinical study conducted in Sweden found that more than a third of all cases of the most common forms of RA could be linked in part to smoking. It’s significantly more risky for people with a genetic disposition towards rheumatoid arthritis.

If you’re taking methotrexate for RA, than smoking cigarettes can undercut the drug’s overall effectiveness. The drug has garnered some notoriety for its range of adverse effects, so combining these substances is highly discouraged. Not too mention it’s a deadly long-term habit in general.

Moderate Your Alcohol Consumption

If you’re taking medication for your rheumatoid arthritis, then drinking regularly can become quite dangerous. These various drugs take a toll on the liver and adding alcohol on top of that can really strain it’s ability to function properly. Now, you don’t have to avoid all alcohol, but you’ll need to practice moderation. Be sure to talk to your doctor about your drinking habits before beginning any course of treatment for RA.

(A new study has shown that moderate beer consumption could help reduce a woman’s RA risk.)

Maintain a Healthier Weight

Being overweight puts excess stress on the joints. People who tend to overeat can pack on extra weight which can put otherwise healthy people at greater risk for:

  • Multiple forms of arthritis
  • High blood pressure (hypertenstion)
  • High choelsterol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes

Adjusting your diet to incorporate more healthy foods make it a lot easier for you to manage your inflammatory symptoms over the long-run. Studies have highlighted the link between obesity and rheumatoid arthritis, so take steps now to maintain that healthier weight.

Don’t Skip Your Workouts

Clinical trials on rheumatoid arthritis have helped disprove the old notion that exercise could be harmful for the affected joints. Now we know that regular physical activity is an essential component in any effective RA management plan. The benefits of routine exercise include:

  • Improved energy levels
  • Reduced joint pain
  • Improved joint mobility
  • Better quality sleep
  • Improved quality of life

Unfortunately, recent studies have shown that just about 42 percent of RA patients still aren’t getting nearly enough exercise. We understand that this can seem extremely daunting when dealing with inflamed and painful joints. The key is to implement a workout program that is well within your range and won’t overexert your joints.

Don’t Skip Out on Your Appointments

It can seem mighty tempting to skip out on your rheumatologist appointment if you’ve been efficiently managing your RA symptoms. In reality, this is not something you want to do. Routine blood tests are an important part of these checkups, and they are often the only way to tell if your body is responding well to the medications you’ve been prescribed.

If adverse effects are noted, then your rheumatologist can make necessary adjustments to your prescription in order to keep you on track and healthy. These appointments are also a good way to keep track of your weight and blood pressure.

In addition to eating well, exercising and other healthy lifestyle choices, people living with RA should take note of the various stressors in their lives. Studies have shown that patients dealing with a lot of pent up stress can suffer from sleep deprivation and risk inducing an RA flare up (BTW, we have some more info for you in case this happens). Take note of what may be causing you undue stress in your life, and be willing to seek outside council if necessary to remedy it.

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