When the temperature drops, it’s tempting to spend lots of time doing things like cozying up with a good book, sipping mugs of hot chocolate and nibbling on freshly baked cookies. While that’s a great plan on occasion, winter shouldn’t be an excuse to stop moving and exercising, which are some of the best things to do if you suffer from joint pain.
The jury is still out on why many joint pain sufferers are achy in the winter, but one theory is that the lower barometric pressures that accompany cold weather allow joints to expand, which can be painful. Chilly temperatures can also thicken the fluid inside your joints, causing them to stiffen and become more uncomfortable.
But there are plenty of things you can do to prevent cold weather from aggravating your joint pain. Here are some of them:
- Layers are key: As any weather-savvy Northerner can tell you, dressing in layers creates warm air pockets that insulate your body, lessening the impact of frigid temperatures on your joints. And staying warm while outdoors also makes it more likely that you’ll be motivated to exercise – including walking or cross-country skiing.
- The right exercise keeps your joints happy: Building and/or maintaining muscle mass protects and supports your joints. Arthritis sufferers who build exercise into their routines suffer less pain, have more energy and sleep better. Make sure, however, that the type you choose is low impact. Swimming, yoga, Pilates, and weight training are all good options.
- Avoid winter weight gain: Exercise will undoubtedly help with this and so will eating a balanced, healthy diet. Some experts recommend an anti-inflammatory diet if you suffer from arthritis – high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, fish, and healthy oils. And if one of your New Year’s Eve resolutions is to lose weight, a leaner body will positively affect your joints, so add that to the list of benefits.
- Seek out things that keep you warm, get your blood circulating, and compress your joints: Tryheating pads, warm baths and showers, massages, or compression gloves – which some people wear at night to help relievejoint pain and stiffness.