Exercise, diet and health as osteoarthritis treatment

Last modified: December 11, 2019

Osteoarthritis is a chronic disease that is mainly treated using long-term instructor-led training. The training is made up of specific exercises designed to strengthen the affected joints. These can be obtained either from a physiotherapist, osteoarthritis classes or digitally through Joint Academy. Exercise can’t cure the actual disease osteoarthritis, but it is possible to reduce the symptoms significantly. Focusing a little more on diet and health can also help reduce the joint pain.

The connection between exercise, diet and health

Most of us know that exercise and nutrition have a significant impact on our health. This is the case for people in general, but for people with osteoarthritis it is even more important to remember. Exercise helps to strengthen the joints and as a result reduces the symptoms caused by osteoarthritis. At the same time, a varied and healthy diet can increase general wellbeing.

Exercise and diet also have a role in weight loss, which can reduce the load on our joints. Reduced load can, in turn, lead to less joint pain.

Start with easy exercises

People with osteoarthritis often find it difficult to make a start with training because of the pain. This leads to many people with the disease becoming increasingly less active. However, research has shown that inactivity exacerbates the disease and that articular cartilage breaks down more quickly if the joint is not used. Focusing more on exercise, diet and health in general may initially feel like a major change, but ultimately it is the most effective osteoarthritis treatment.

If someone has been inactive for a long time, it is important to start with gentle exercise. Everyday fitness can be a good start. Why not take the stairs instead of the lift or take the bus to work instead of the car (and so walk a few extra steps)? After starting with short walks, swimming once a week could be a suitable next step. Swimming is gentle on the joints and makes it easy to do the movements properly.

Read more about exercise for osteoarthritis.

A varied diet is a vital part of being healthy

Diet has been shown to be a crucial part of osteoarthritis treatment. There is no typical diet to follow, the recommendation is just to have a generally healthy diet. This means a diet with large amounts of fruit and vegetables and less red meat or fast food. Combining a walk in the forest with collecting mushrooms or picking berries, which can then be used in your cooking, is a perfect way to kill two birds with one stone.

Changing your food and health habits

Changing your habits associated with exercise, diet and health is often difficult, but there are things that can make it easier. For example, it can be a good idea to read up on how exercise and diet affect the body and wellbeing. This type of education is available from osteoarthritis classes or a physiotherapist. A personal trainer or a food advisor (dietitian) may also be helpful.

Another piece of advice for starting to adopt healthy habits that work in the long run is to take one step at a time. Many people change all their habits in one go, which sometimes results in giving up everything sooner or later. It is better to decide to change one or two things to start with, for example eating vegetables with every meal. Once this has been established and feels natural, you can move to other changes. These are not quick changes; they are habits that should be sustainable in the long term.

Read more about living with osteoarthritis.