What lifestyle changes can help me cope with osteoarthritis?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

Lifestyle changes can help you cope with osteoarthritis (OA). Some changes you might want to consider making include:

  • Losing weight by eating a more healthful diet.
  • Getting more physically active by swimming, walking, biking, doing yoga, gardening -- anything that gets you moving in an enjoyable way.
  • Protecting your joints, often with the help of an occupational therapist who can teach you less painful ways to do your work and daily activities.
  • Quitting smoking.

What's the best part of all these changes? They help not only your OA, but the rest of your body too.

Alberta Scruggs
Nutrition & Dietetics

A beneficial lifestyle habit to adapt into your day to day routine is a physical activity program if you suffer from osteoarthritis.

To help my clients better understand this concept, we sit for a few minutes in the same position. After a while, we describe how we feel. Words of description include numbness, inability to move and poor circulation. This comes from being immobile. Just imagine these feelings compounded with pain. Not good!

Exercise, such as active range of motion (where you move a joint using the attached muscles without assistance) and strength training (where you use some type of resistance to muscular movement to help maintain or increase muscular and joint strength), can help a person with osteoarthritis engage in aerobic conditioning (rhythmic movement that improves heart and lung health) and balance/agility exercises (where you improve your balance that can help decrease risks of falls or other injuries).

One of the "Icing on the Cake" benefits of exercise is weight management. Excess weight on joints causes excess pain. By integrating an exercise program into your daily routine, you lessen the risk of weight gain and increased pain.

You can make certain lifestyle changes to help cope with osteoarthritis. Perhaps the most important is to make sure you don't become overweight, or if you are, to lose weight safely over time. Being overweight or obese can worsen osteoarthritis. It can cause more pressure in joints, leading to more pain, and can make the disease progress faster. To manage your weight, plan a balanced, healthy diet with your doctor, nutritionist, or dietitian. Stopping smoking is also an important coping strategy because toxins from cigarettes can aggravate osteoarthritis pain.

Continue Learning about Living with Osteoarthritis

Living with Osteoarthritis

Living with Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) can make moving painful and difficult. Being overweight or obese puts extra pressure on the joints, so it is important to exercise regularly and eat a healthy, low-fat diet. An occupational therapist can teach ...

you ways to perform daily activities with less stress on your joints.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.