If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis or Osteoarthritis, you may have noticed that your pain and stiffness worsen in the winter. One of the best remedies for arthritic pain in the winter is to stay active during those months. This season treat your body like you would treat your car. You can’t leave either one parked all winter without doing some damage. Follow the same tips for winterizing your body that you would follow for winterizing your car.
1. Keep Your Battery Charged
Your mindset is your body’s battery. A car’s battery supplies it with electricity to start the engine. Keep your body’s battery charged with a positive mental attitude – one that is determined to get your body up and moving during the winter months. Exercise releases endorphins, our body’s natural pain reliever and mood elevator, which contribute to a healthier state of mind and body.
2. Maintain Your Fluids
Low temperatures can cause your engine oil to thicken, making it more difficult to keep the engine’s moving parts lubricated. Maintaining fresh oil keeps it from thickening. Antifreeze keeps both your engine and your radiator from freezing and thus putting your car out of commission.
In the body, prolonged periods of inactivity result in gelling – something comparable to oil thickening. Gelling is the sensation of your joints becoming stiff and more painful. When you move your joints, you stimulate the production of synovial fluid, your body’s natural joint lubricant. Aerobic exercise is a safe way for arthritis sufferers to get moving. Researchers from the University of Grenoble Medical School reported that RA patients who aerobically exercised regularly had “improved joint function, less joint pain, and greater quality of life.”
Think of aerobic exercise as your body’s anti-freeze and oil maintenance. It not only creates heat, but it also acts as a natural lubricant. Recumbent bikes, elliptical machines, and yoga are activities you can do at home when you cannot get outside. If you can leave your home, swimming or aerobics in a heated pool are other ways to get exercise.
Resistance training adds load to your joints. Load combined with movement squeezes the synovial fluid in between joint surfaces and reduces friction, a process called “weeping lubrication”. Add resistance to workouts by using bands, low weights, or your own body weight. In her book Action Plan for Arthritis, Lynn Millar has a section dedicated to resistance training for arthritis sufferers.
Finally, to maintain healthy bones and joints, you need a sufficient supply of calcium and Vitamin D. Calcium is the mineral that builds strong bones and keeps them healthy. Some of the foods containing Vitamin D are mackerel, salmon, and egg yolks.
3. Check Your Tires
Good winter tires give your car better traction and keep it from slipping off the road. The same goes for shoes and exercise. You need good traction and good support. Make sure you have the right shoes for your workout.
4. Keep Your Gas Tank More Than Half-full
In the winter, your gas tank can freeze if it gets too low. An empty belly freezes your metabolism, making you lethargic. Stay hydrated with hot tea if you are feeling cold. Eating several small meals per day will keep your tank fueled and your metabolism high. Turnips, pears, chestnuts, and tuna are anti-inflammatory foods to add to your winter diet.