What do you think about when the weather turns cold? While you’re enjoying hot cocoa and holidays, you may also be concerned about your aching joints. The scientific reasons are still a matter of debate, but many adults find that arthritis symptoms increase during the winter.
Say goodbye to sore hands and stiff knees. You can feel more comfortable year-round. Try these simple lifestyle changes that will soothe your joints even when the temperature drops.
- Dress in layers. Some experts believe that decreasing barometric pressure increases inflammation in your joints. Whatever the reason, you can find relief by breaking out the thermal underwear, gloves, and hats. Layering your clothes will also help you to make quick adjustments if the temperature shifts.
- Apply heat. On cold nights, sleep with a heated mattress pad or an electric blanket. Warm baths and showers help too.
- Limit alcohol. Hot cider sounds delicious after an afternoon on the ski slopes. However, alcohol actually lowers your body temperature while making you feel warmer. Enjoy non-alcoholic drinks or wait until you’ve been indoors a while before you imbibe.
- Rethink comfort foods. Lots of winter dishes are loaded with sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. Discover new favorites or lighten up your traditional recipes. Bake pies with less sugar and sprinkle berries on top. Put more kale and less cheese in your macaroni and cheese.
- Eat winter vegetables. Green salads may look less appetizing when it’s chilly outside, but there is a wide variety of seasonal produce to enjoy. Feast on Brussel sprouts and leeks.
- Exercise indoors. Most healthy adults can exercise safely outdoors in cold weather if they’re dressed appropriately. Then again, you may prefer attending yoga classes or swimming laps in a heated pool until spring.
- Weigh yourself daily. It’s easy to lose track of what’s happening to your waistline when it’s buried under sweaters and long coats. Stepping on the scale each morning will help you catch any weight gain before it piles up.
- Massage your muscles. Studies show that massage can provide significant relief for arthritis symptoms. That includes treatment by a licensed therapist or using your hands or a foam roller at home.
- Prevent falls. Ice and snow increase the risk of falls outdoors that can aggravate old joint injuries or cause new ones. Watch for slippery areas and wear shoes with adequate traction.
- Manage stress. Daily tension can make any physical discomfort seem more severe. Make sleep a top priority and find relaxation practices that work for you.
- Take vitamin D. This nutrient plays a major role in fighting inflammation. Ask your doctor if you need to take vitamin D supplements, especially if you spend less time outdoors in the sun during the winter.
- Try glucosamine. Many expensive joint supplements have little to no evidence to back up their claims. One exception is glucosamine, a natural compound found in cartilage. Some studies suggest that glucosamine sulfate and glucosamine hydrochloride may be helpful in treating arthritis.
- See your doctor. There have been many positive developments in the treatment of arthritis. In addition to conventional medicine, you may want to explore acupuncture and chiropractic. Tell your doctor about any methods you use so they can coordinate the highest quality care for you.
Keeping warm and preventing winter weight gain are two of the most effective ways to protect your joints during cold weather. If you need more help managing your arthritis symptoms, talk with your doctor.