Living with arthritis is hard enough at the best of times, even harder with restrictions on movement in place. How do arthritis sufferers live healthily in these challenging times?
We’ve captured the best advice of experts, in ten helpful tips you can follow during the lockdown.
1. Filter Wisely
There is a lot hearsay about COVID-19, with speculation rife on how the crisis will unfold. Our first tip is to be really careful what you read, watch or listen to. Social media is full with suspect content. In some cases it’s well meaning; other times it’s more malevolent. The news is 100% pandemic right now. Do yourself a favour, turn it off for a break, pick up a book or start a jigsaw instead. 😊
Our tips and further reading links are from credible, evidence-based authorities, typically with content written by skilled journalists, medical professionals or scientist.
In our view, the best source for specific advice and up-to-date news on living under lockdown with arthritis is Versus Arthritis, the UK-based charity.
2. Keep Moving
The evidence is clear: light, low impact exercise is vital for people living with arthritis. This remains ever true in this crisis. Movement helps keep the joints active, improves circulation and puts limits on weight gain. Definitely use your one out-of-home exercise allowance, with a brisk walk, easy bike ride or light jog. Try also to add short stints of exercise at home: an online or TV workout routine using your furniture or walk of 1,000 steps around your home. Creative ways of working out can be fun.
3. Snack Smartly
With more spare time and greater need for mood boosts, snacking is on the rise. Avoid being tempted by the bad stuff by having lots of healthier snacks to hand. Try fresh blueberries, dark chocolate (85%+ if possible), mixed unsalted nuts, little pots of natural, fresh olives and no added sugar yoghurt. Even a piece of cheese is better than a lot of snacks – try it as a topper on a slice of apple, with a bit of chutney.
4. Sleep Well
A good night’s sleep is vital to your health, but it can be hard for people with arthritis and especially tricky right now, with extra worries to keep us awake. A good diet and plenty of exercise are vital for good sleep, so there is another reason to get this right. But it’s also important to avoid napping during the day, drinking coffee or caffeinated tea after lunchtime and having electronic devices in the bedroom.
5. Stay Connected
With less in person interaction, it’s important to make time to connect with friends and family, nearby and far away, as much as possible. In difficult times, sharing your thoughts and feelings with others is vital, to share the load. Don’t focus just on the negatives, talk about plans for the future, the latest book you’ve read or a happy memory. Try to mix up messaging, emails, telephone, video calls and chats over the garden fence. Too much time doing one form can have a negative impact on your body.
6. Drink Better
It’s likely your life is a bit more sedentary, so it’s a particularly bad time to be consuming sugary drinks. Along with lots of water, add variety with herbal tea (mint, lemon & ginger, turmeric), soda or fizzy mineral water (with a slice of fruit). Keep alcohol to a minimum (it’s not great for the immune system). But if you wish for a tipple, whisky or vodka & soda and dry white or red wine are relatively low sugar/carb options.
7. Create Routine
Routines are up in the air with the lockdown and this can be bad for health. It messes with sleep patterns, encourages snacking, hampers exercise opportunities and allows the day to drift. Create a schedule for the day that makes time for healthy eating, connecting, exercise and rest, with any work or study built in too. This might require changing from one outfit into another, to mark the change in activity. You can’t do everything in your pyjamas, at least not every day!
With more spare time, this period might even be productive - a time to learn new skills, complete tasks around the home, cut your bills or plan for the future.
8. Boost Immunity
Maintaining a healthy immune system is always important, but especially now. Ensure your diet is rich in nutrients that boost immunity, including:
- vitamin A (carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin)
- vitamin C (leafy green vegetables, citrus fruit)
- vitamin D (fatty fish like salmon and the sun!)
- vitamin E (almonds, peanuts, spinach, broccoli)
- selenium (garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, brazil nuts)
- zinc (lean red meat, poultry, sugar-free yogurt and chickpeas)
If you struggle to get all the nutrients you need from you diet, consider topping up with a supplement containing the key vitamins and minerals, in sufficient doses to make a difference. Our own supplement ActiFlex also aids immune strength and helps with symptoms of arthritis.
9. Store Cleverly
Loading the pantry with long-lasting products minimises shopping trips and helps prepare for the worst. But often it’s pretty unhealthy, low nutrient stuff. Instead, load up on healthier products, such as tinned fish, cans of vegetables & fruit, long life milk, olive or coconut oil, and nuts & seeds. If you can still access fresh fruit and vegetables, buy things that naturally last longer like apples and oranges, pumpkin and sweet potatoes, carrots and beetroot.
10. Cherish Memories
It is harder to connect with family at present and holidays are on hold. But hopefully you have photos, letters, postcards or videos that remind you of good times you’ve shared with others. Now is a great time to dig out items that trigger memories of happier times – from old computers, boxes in attics and dusty albums. You’ll probably find things you’d totally forgotten about.
We advises being careful with social media, but there are some funny photos out there. For our final extra read, check out these baking fails… some people need to return to their regular job, soon!
Our ActiFlex health supplement is packed full of nutrients to aid immunity, including high doses of Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Selenium and Zinc, along with Bioperine to help absorption. Designed by a long term sufferer of arthritis, it has 15 potent, active ingredients to tackle joint health, bone strength, inflammation, immunity and low energy.
Find out more here.