Weight loss tips for people with arthritis

It's enough of a challenge to carry groceries in from the car. But what if you were hauling weight that you could never put down? That's the dilemma of being overweight when you have arthritis. But these tips will help you cope.

Weight loss tips for people with arthritis

Why losing weight is often a smart idea

  • Carrying extra pounds puts constant pressure on joints, which subjects them to more stress and contributes to pain.
  • Losing weight requires that your body burn more energy (calories) than you take in. That makes a good diet half of the equation.
  • The other half, exercise, works in two essential ways. First, you burn calories through your activity.
  • But second, you also boost your metabolism — both during your workout and for as long as 24 to 48 hours later!
  • By keeping a regular exercise schedule, you'll perpetually boost your calorie-burning metabolism and keep notching it higher as you go.

Burning calories

Get on the vacuum program.

  • Make vacuuming a total body exercise by keeping your back straight and stepping forward in a slightly longer-than-usual stride as you move the machine forward, then stepping back as you draw the unit toward you again.
  • At the same time you work the muscles of your legs with this lunge-like motion, roll the vacuum cleaner forward with your arms, which uses your shoulder, chest, arm and upper back for a near-complete workout that contains both strength and aerobic conditioning.

Make every movement count.

Fidgeting burns hundreds of calories a day, according to studies at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and even chewing gum eats up 11 calories an hour. So don't lose sight of the fact that any form of physical activity — no matter how small — helps your body burn calories. More ways to get movement into your everyday life:

  • Stand and walk around when on the telephone.
  • Stand and walk around during television commercials.
  • No food processors; chop your vegetables by hand.
  • In the car, roll your shoulders and stretch your arms at red lights.
  • Got music on? Tap your toes or bounce your knee to the rhythm.
  • Bag your own groceries at the supermarket.

Track your metabolism.

  • Even if you boost your metabolism, how would you know? It's largely been a matter of guesswork or cumulative results on the bathroom scale.
  • Now, however, you can track your resting metabolic rate (RMR) — the basic measure of metabolism — using handheld inhaler-like devices.
  • When you breathe into the unit for a few minutes, your RMR pops up on a digital readout, giving you a calorie goal for both diet and exercise — and a tangible way to check on your progress.

Exercise primer

You can burn lots of extra calories during a strength workout if you move quickly from one exercise to the next. Keeping in motion rather than resting between exercises combines strengthening with aerobic exercise to boost your energy burn.

Key trick: give just-exercised muscles time to rest by alternate between upper and lower-body moves. Do your aerobic activity four to six days a week, progressing as your comfort level allows, following these guidelines:

  • If you're new to cardiovascular exercise, begin by walking two minutes at a slow, leisurely pace followed by one to two minutes of brisk walking.
  • Once you're comfortable exercising for a total of five minutes, gradually boost the brisk walking period by 30 to 60 seconds per week.
  • Build up gradually to a routine in which you walk at a leisurely pace for two to five minutes, then walk briskly the rest of the time. Build your total walking time to between 20 and 40 minutes.
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