By: Christopher Gaffney, Ph.D.
“The best way to lose weight is to adopt a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet & exercise. People who suffer from Psoriatic Arthritis will benefit from low impact activities that decrease pressure on the joints.”— Michael Schuster, M.D., Ph.D.
ARBDA Rheumatologist & Physician Partner
Research has shown that people who are overweight or obese have a greater likelihood of developing Psoriatic Arthritis. Even without a chronic illness, though, managing your weight can be difficult and changes in weight can have an impact on the rest of your overall health.
Managing your weight isn’t easy, especially when you have to contend with psoriatic arthritis at the same time. Your joints are swollen and in pain — why would you want to exercise? It might be understandable if you wouldn’t want to even go out at all.
However, research has proven (and common sense agrees) that a lack of activity contributes to weight gain. However, you might not know that being overweight (and continuing to gain weight) can have an effect on your psoriatic arthritis symptoms as well. Meaning that, being overweight will contribute to greater inflammation in your joints. This will, in turn, cause greater pain and disability over time. Additionally, being overweight can cause some psoriatic arthritis medications to not work as well.
Our ARBDA physicians believe that maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle are the fundamental building blocks of long-term wellness. Coincidentally, this is also the best method when trying to lose weight!
That said, however, while we all have our own reasons for weight fluctuation – here are a handful of tips that you can use to manage your weight when handling psoriatic arthritis.
1. Identify Your Triggers
Everyone has different triggers in their life. This is especially true for people suffering from autoimmune diseases like Psoriatic Arthritis (often referred to as PsA). Figuring out what they are can reduce those rapid increases in pain and inflammation (called “flares” or “flare-ups”) and, in turn, decrease the amount of overall inflammation in your body. By avoiding these triggers, you can reduce excess fluid and inflammation that can cause weight gain.
2. Diet, Diet, and … oh yeah … Diet.
Whether you have arthritis or not, your diet is the most significant factor when it comes to managing your weight. Eating healthy may prove more difficult, especially when you aren’t feeling well, but unfortunately those comfort foods will not help stave off joint pain. When possible, try to stay away from both fried and highly processed foods. Remember small steps are the key to success. Instead of a cookie – try some fruit instead. Also, adding vegetables to each meal is important for long term success. And, lastly, try to drink a glass of water at least 10 minutes before eating. You’ll be surprised – but you’ll actually eat less.
3. Keep It Moving
Along with a healthy diet, exercise is one of the best ways to manage your weight. Even if it’s simply taking a short walk around the block or choosing to take the stairs instead of the elevator, these actions can go a long way while also benefiting your joints. Don’t overdo it, of course. Know your limits; more on that below.
4. Low-impact Exercises
You don’t have to run a marathon or bench press 300 lbs. There are plenty of low-impact exercises that can benefit you. Besides going for a walk, as mentioned above, try taking a yoga class or going for a swim. There are several other exercises that are easier on your joints. Talk to your Rheumatologist about different exercises or physical therapy which might benefit your particular symptoms.
5. Learn About Your Medications
Some medications can cause weight gain and water retention, in spite of your best efforts. Consult with your doctor about your treatments and find out how they may impact your weight.
To learn more about treating psoriatic arthritis, contact our team here at Arthritis, Rheumatic, & Back Disease Associates. Find out which of our several Central and South Jersey locations is closest to you!