This past week I have noticed the chill in the air during my morning walk. The hot, muggy summer seems to have moved on out of our southern Colorado region at last. The breezes in the afternoon help keep things comfortable, and I know it won’t be long before I see the signs of color changes in our extremely green outdoors.
Whether moving from hot to cold, or somewhere in between, those who suffer from arthritis will often be the first to notice weather changes. This phenomenon has been studied in several research papers discussed in this article. The stiffness in your joints from osteoarthritis often gets worse when it’s cold, especially if your area is higher in humidity. Those with gout may feel that the pain is worse when it’s hot. For those who suffer from RA (rheumatoid arthritis) this comprehensive article gives you some great tips to managing seasonal changes.
The research has confirmed some of these responses to weather change and I think it’s just one more part of being human living on earth. Your environment – physical as well as psychological and emotional – is a large contributory factor to your overall wellness.
As you’re getting to know us at Haraka, you have probably recognized that we present a whole-life wellness approach. There is no ONE magic bullet (even though Haraka comes close…) to managing your arthritis. It takea an integrated and disciplined approach to managing your health. I recently heard a medical doctor commenting on how patients with diabetes take the “magic pill” Wellbutrin, while continuing to consume too much sugar. That little pill won’t protect you if you don’t make the accompanying lifestyle changes necessary to reduce your sugar intake.
Arthritis medications are the same. While arthritis is not a curable condition, how well you manage it goes beyond just taking pills. In our effort to present the importance of diet and exercise, together with physical therapy treatment (if prescribed), medications, supplements like Haraka, we again want to discuss the whole-body health impact of the changing seasons in this month of early Fall in the USA.
Just as people flood the gym at the start of summer to get in shape, trying to get ahead of your arthritis pain in the colder months should be a year-round activity. That said, as you approach the colder seasons, what can you do to mitigate any worsening of symptoms?
Here are some ideas.
Mind Your Mouth
With colder weather (and the upcoming holidays) comes the baking and cooking season. The delicious pies, the heart-warming but calorie loading soups, the increase in sugar intake from hot cocoa, warm puddings, and feel-good donuts with your morning coffee. All of these entice and delight in the short term, but bring a costly consequence, as you might know well from previous experience.
Does that mean you can’t enjoy the holiday foods? Well, you would probably stop reading our blog is I said you needed to do that! Not at all. But everything in moderation – hence our saying of mind your mouth. Be fully aware of what you’re putting into your mouth every day.
Remember during COVID how the medical professionals advised us to be aware of our hands – what we were touching, how often we were disinfecting our hands, etc. Well – mind your mouth is the same concept. Mindless snacking and automatic indulgence can be curbed when mind your mouth
Build Up Your Defenses
Fill your fridge and pantry with healthy, anti-inflammatory foods so that you leave less room for the less than helpful foods. Go for the 80:20 rule, or better still the 90:10 rule – eating healthy, non-inflammatory foods 80-90% of the time, and allowing the indulgences at a limited ratio.
If you tend to get colds and flu, build up your immunity during the warmer months by raising your levels of vitamins and minerals in your system. With natural supplementation, your body takes time to assimilate, absorb, and then adjust to a raised benchmark of these levels. It doesn’t happen overnight. Taking a bunch of Vitamin C tablets the day you catch a cold is very much a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. Treating inflammation is an ongoing process which will become normal for you the more you do it.
If you really want to deep dive into the value and use of vitamins and minerals, here’s a powerful resource.
Interestingly, Vitamin C also packs a powerful punch in dealing with inflammation – which, by now, you understand, causes all the issues with your arthritis. Read this article about a study done on this
I get it. You are comfy in your warm bed. It’s snowing outside, and the temperature is a chilly 10 degrees (or less…) Especially if the sidewalks are icy, it’s probably not the day to head out for a walk. So, what can you do?
Here are a few ideas…
- Go mall walking! Sure, the hard surface may mean you can’t walk as far or as long, but just getting some steps in will keep you moving without being too cold. (and tip…leave your credit cards at home.)
- Do some floor or chair exercises. Stretch, do strengthening movements.
- Dance! Put on your favorite music and get swaying.
- Swim in an indoor pool. (The YMCA offers the Silver Sneakers program – so it’s free!)
- Better yet – go to the mall, or walk in a museum, with a friend, so you get some oxytocin flowing alongside the endorphins – it will put you on a high the rest of the day
Dress for the Weather
Outdoors, or indoors, most arthritis sufferers know the importance of being comfortable – never getting too cold, in particular.
If you want to go out and get fresh air, dress appropriately. Especially important is your footwear. To walk comfortably – wear the right shoes, sneakers, or boots – that give you tread, support, and comfort.
Stay comfortable with layers, whether exercising indoors or out. You know your own arthritis condition better than anyone – and keeping on top of your comfort levels is an important aspect to staying motivated to exercise and be active, no matter the weather.
In summary – embracing the changes in seasons is one of life’s simple joys. Make the most of it by getting ahead of any physical changes your body may experience. Here’s another great article to give you more information. Of course, if you’re not yet taking Haraka – it’s time to get started! What are you waiting for!
Till next time, here’s to your Limber Life!