Arthritis most commonly appears with old age, but the reality is that it can hit anyone, at any age, and especially those with poor lifestyle habits.
With the many studies showing the link between stress, weight, and arthritis; more doctors are recommending proactive steps that can slow or even prevent your risk of developing arthritis.
By educating yourself on the risk factors and causes of arthritis, you can make lifestyle changes that can reduce your risk of developing this chronic and painful disease that affects over 70 million Americans today.
Who is affected?
There are hundreds of types of arthritis that have been identified, and arthritis can hit at any age.
The two most common types of arthritis are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
According to WebMD, women are at a higher risk for rheumatoid arthritis, and the disease usually develops in women between 30 and 40 years of age.
It’s speculated that women in this age range are more at risk because they are often strained from heavy work, home responsibilities, and childcare.
But arthritis affects everyone, from children to the elderly. Sometimes the course of arthritis is a slow progression, and the initial symptoms can be hard to identify. Other times, it progresses rapidly, showing up in a matter of days.
The symptoms and causes
The inflammation and joint pain caused by arthritis can be life-changing, turning tasks that were once simple, into a painful experience.
The Mayo Clinic describes the most common signs of arthritis being:
- Decreased range of motion
You are at a greater risk to develop arthritis if you have any of the following conditions:
- Being overweight
- Putting extra stress on joints from sports or strenuous activities
- Approaching old age
- Having a joint injury
- High stress lifestyle
Proactive steps to lower your risk for developing arthritis
Since lifestyle modifications such as exercise, lowering stress, and weight management are preventative measures for arthritis, there are changes you can make right now to lower your risk of developing the disease.
Managing your weight can decrease your risk by as much as 50 percent
The advantages of an active lifestyle that includes exercise is well-documented.
Exercise and a healthy diet lowers your risk for developing arthritis, and is equally as important for managing arthritis if you are already affected by the disease.
Each pound of extra weight that you gain places 4 times more stress on your joints.
According to the National Arthritis Foundation, cutting 11 pounds from your weight decreases your chance of developing osteoarthritis by 50 percent.
Best preventative exercises
Swimming still remains one of the best low-impact exercises available.
Aquatic exercise is especially beneficial since it allows you to exercise without placing strain on your joints.
If you can’t swim; walking, yoga, and stretching are good ways to stay active. Walking is easy to do, it’s free, and it’s easy on the joints, like swimming.
Anything that gets your blood flowing stimulates physiological effects in your body that can decrease inflammation, slow the aging process, and help decrease your risk for arthritis.
Minimize the impact on your joints
Since arthritis is a joint disorder, protecting your joints is imperative to lowering your risks.
One way to protect your joints is to strengthen the muscles around them through low-impact exercise. You can also decrease the strain on your joints by maintaining a healthy weight.
Another way to minimize the impact on your joints is to make changes in your work environment.
For the many of you who work in front of a computer, make sure that your computer monitor is in line with your head, with your hands resting easily in a neutral position, and your wrists relaxed while typing.
Consider using a hands-free headset instead of traditional handheld phone to reduce neck strain.
If you sit for long periods of time, make sure to get up and stand at least every 30 minutes.
If your job requires you to lift heavy loads, and stand for long periods of time, you can take other measures to reduce the impact on your joints:
When lifting heavy objects, take the stress off your hand joints as much as possible. To do this, use the palms of both your hands, and your arms, instead of your fingers while lifting.
Hold items closer to your body, and when possible, slide objects instead of lifting them. Remember to take frequent sitting breaks to protect your knees.
The importance of relaxation, a positive attitude, and a less stressful lifestyle
Aside from lack of exercise and poor food choices, research has found that chronic mild stress is a significant risk factor for the onset of arthritis.
Fortunately, as with our diet and exercise habits, stress and having a positive outlook on life is something that we have control over.
In today’s fast paced lifestyle, it’s important to have ways that you can get quality relaxation and rest to counteract life’s demands. Spending time in nature, with friends and family, and also in solitude; are all ways to de-stress.
For those who have already developed arthritis, the question becomes a matter of how to deal with the stress of having the disease. Although there is no cure for arthritis, you can control the way you cope with it.
Relaxation, a positive attitude, and living stress-free are important factors in dealing with chronic pain.
Hot tubs and hydrotherapy for the prevention and treatment of arthritis
Warm water therapy (hydrotherapy) been used for centuries for it’s physiological and psychological therapeutic effects.
With a hot tub, you can:
- exercise without placing stress on your joints,
- de-stress and relax in the tranquil waters with your family or in solitude,
- naturally increase blood flow to your heart and muscles,
- and get a full body massage for sore joints or muscles with the power of the pulsating therapeutic jets,
- benefit from warm water therapy in the relaxation of your own private retreat.
Hot tubs are good for your body and joints
The buoyancy in a hot tub eases the pressure of joints and muscles, increases blood flow to the muscles, and the therapeutic massage of the jets stimulate endorphins–the body’s natural painkillers.
With an exercise spa, you can enjoy low-impact exercise that doesn’t negatively affect your joints like traditional on-land exercises, and after the workout you can stretch your muscles, making it the ultimate workout for your body.
Hot tubs help you to relax and de-stress
Aside from the physiological benefits, a hot tub offers relaxation and pleasure from the stresses of life–all key elements to a healthy lifestyle and lowering your risk of arthritis.
If you already have arthritis or are in the beginning stages of the disease, a hot tub is a doctor recommended natural therapy for pain management and for increasing mobility.
Just 15 to 20 minutes several times a day can offer much needed hydrotherapeutic relief from arthritis pain.
Suggested exercise and hydrotherapy hot tubs
Any hot tub offers hydrotherapeutic benefits, but ThermoSpas suggests these three hot tubs that are excellent for both exercise and therapy, as well as a hot tub that was designed specifically for arthritis.
The Aquacisor – this is the ultimate exercise hot tub. Exercise bands are attached to the spa so that you can get a full body strength training workout or relax in the tranquil waters of a hot tub. The environment of a hot tub is an ideal place to strength train, since the warm water prepares your muscles for exercise, the buoyancy protects your joints, and later you can massage your muscles with the therapeutic jets. It’s an all in one, ultimate exercise and relaxation machine.
The Swim Spa – a swim spa is like a giant hot tub that allows you to swim against a current, while also receiving the benefits of warm water therapy. Often, swim spas are used in place of pools in your backyard. The benefit of a swim spa is that you can reap the benefits of aquatic exercise all year long in your own personal gym that’s open 24/7, right in your backyard. With a swim spa you can swim, stretch, train, and row with built-in exercise bands. Plus, the kids love it because it’s always at a warm temperature and never gets cold, like a pool.
The Healing Spa – an award-winning hot tub that was built in collaboration with arthritis sufferers and the National Arthritis Foundation. The Healing Spa is a therapy hot tub with built-in features to help people suffering from arthritic conditions.