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Living with Rheumatoid Arthritis? 7 Bad Habits to Drop Now!

Man struggles with his rheumatoid arthritis symptomsStaying healthy while living with rheumatoid arthritis isn’t easy. Work, family obligations, and general stress often gets in the way. However, before you indulge in an veg-out session with fast food, alcohol, or other unhealthy vices, consider the negative impact it could have on your rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatoid arthritis, or RA, can wear you down. But you can find the strength to battle it. This is a progressive disease so better!the sooner you kick these bad habits, the 

Improve your quality of life and keep joint pain at bay by dropping the following habits.

1) Skipping Exercise

Exercise may feel like the last thing you should be doing with this type of arthritis, but here’s what research has shown us:

  • Exercise helps lessen joint pain
  • It will help improve your energy
  • It’ll improve your quality of sleep
  • It’ll improve your overall day-to-day function

A recent study from Northwestern University in Chicago found that 42 percent of people living with rheumatoid arthritis stayed inactive most of the time.

If you have let your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms keep you from being active, it’s time for a change. Just make sure to start slowly and gradually increase your workouts. This way, you can give your body the movement it needs without overtaxing your joints.

2) Stressing Out

Experts have known for years that stress can trigger rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups. Of course, some stress is unavoidable, but everyday stress can be managed.

Woman's stress is exacerbating her rheumatoid arthritis symptoms

Popular stress managements methods include yoga, meditation, and exercise. Bonus points for yoga, as it may also alleviate RA stiffness!

3) Eating Too Much

Overeating isn’t healthy to begin with, but it holds especially true on a rheumatoid arthritis diet. Your joints may already be in pain, and carrying around extra pounds will only make it worse.

If you don’t have rheumatoid arthritis, your arthritis risk will decrease if you maintain a healthy weight. A study published in Arthritis Care & Research found that people with a body mass index of 30 or more were at greater risk for developing RA than people with healthy BMIs.

Sticking to a healthy diet and maintaining a healthy weight are excellent ways to manage joint pain and other rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.

4) Drinking Too Much

This might sound like a given, since drinking too much alcohol isn’t good for anyone’s health. But according to Houston rheumatologist Alan Friedman, MD., “heavy drinking can be a double whammy” when it comes to rheumatoid arthritis.

RA patient avoids drinking too much wine

Alcohol taxes the liver, as can rheumatoid arthritis medications like methotrexate. Not to mention that drinking can reduce bone density. Lower bone density can increase your risk for fractures and other arthritis complications.

If giving up drinking entirely sounds like no fun, just be sure to enjoy alcohol in moderation!

5) Smoking

According to a Swedish study published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, over a third of confirmed RA cases can be attributed in part to smoking. For people also have a genetic risk, the statistic holds true for 50% of people.

Those at risk of developing RA should not begin smoking (nor should anyone for that matter!) and those who already have it should try to quit. Not only does smoking increase your RA risk, it also reduces the effectiveness of certain arthritis medications.

6) Being Underslept

This is another cornerstone of good health that becomes especially important for those who have rheumatoid arthritis.

Rheumatic teen finds it difficult to sleep

Many people sacrifice sleep when work or family pressures start to pile up, but this can severely compromise your health and well-being. Not only does it further disable people with RA, it often leads to other bad habits. Exhaustion may make you more tempted to eat unhealthy foods or skip workouts.

Aim for seven or more hours of high quality sleep every night. That way, you’ll be at your best to manage your rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and fight unhealthy temptations.

7) Skipping Doctor Visits

It can be tempting to skip doctor visits, especially if you’re busy or experiencing less symptoms. This is not a good idea.

Friedman urges individuals with RA to stick to their regularly scheduled appointments.

“You may be experiencing side effects from your rheumatoid arthritis medications without realizing it. The only way we can tell is with blood tests,” he said.

If this is the case, your medications need to be adjusted. In addition to monitoring your medications, regular doctor appointments are essential for monitoring your blood pressure and weight.

Living with rheumatoid arthritis isn’t always easy. But there are a number of ways to keep up your health and feel better. Ditching these seven unhealthy habits is an excellent place to begin!

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