Many factors can play a role in being overweight. Although you may not
be able to control all the factors that lead to being overweight, you can
change your diet and exercise habits. Maintaining healthy habits can be difficult when you have arthritis.
People all gain weight the same way. You gain weight when the number of calories you eat is more than the number of calories your body uses. The formula for weight control is the same for everyone, including people with arthritis:
Calories in Food > Calories Used = Weight Gain
Calories in Food < Calories Used = Weight Loss
Calories in Food = Calories Used = Weight Control
Some key factors play a part in weight gain.
Eating too many calories can become a habit. So can choosing more sedentary activities like watching TV instead of being more physically active. Over time, these habits can lead to weight gain.
Being overweight and obesity tends to run in families. Although families often share diet and exercise habits that can play a role in obesity, these shared genes can increase the chance that family members will be overweight.
World Around Us
People tend to eat more just because "food" is so much around us.
You can find food and messages about food:
at the workplace
at shopping centers
at family gatherings
at social events
Eating more and being inactive is made easier by things such as:
remote controlled devices
fast food drive-ins
Some diseases such as hypothyroidism, can also lead to weight gain. Talk to your doctor if you think you have a health problem that could be causing you to gain weight.
Some drugs such as the corticosteroid prednisone, can also lead to weight gain. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the side effects of any drugs you are taking.
Many people will tend to eat more, even if not hungry, when they are feeling:
Being active becomes more difficult when you are suffering with:
Staying Active & Healthy Diet
Eating a balanced diet and staying active are the building blocks of good health. Poor eating habits and too little exercise can lead to being overweight. Diet and exercise are key to weight control. Even if you have arthritis, you can control your weight or reach a healthy weight by:
Advice For People With Arthritis About Weight Loss
Avoiding A Sedentary Lifestyle
How To Start Eating Healthier
If You Need To Lose Weight
Experts recommend a safe rate of weight loss of 1/2 to 2 pounds per week.
Try some of these ideas to support your weight loss efforts:
Keep a food diary. Write down all the food that you eat daily. Also write down the time you eat and your feelings at the time.
Shop from a list.
Never shop when you are hungry.
Store foods out of sight.
Dish up smaller servings.
When at restaurants, eat only half your meal and take the rest home.
Eat at the table with the TV off.
Keep food only in the kitchen, not in your bedroom, desk, car, etc.
Be realistic about weight loss goals. Aim for a slow, modest weight loss.
Expect a few setbacks and forgive yourself.
Add exercise to your weight loss plans.
Extra Pounds Increase Pain
How To Recognize & Control Food Portions
15 Common Myths About Weight-Loss, Nutrition & Diet
Arthritis & Weight Loss Quiz
Regular exercise is essential for people with arthritis. Exercise can help you control your weight and also:
increase energy levels
help develop better sleep patterns
maintain a healthy heart
increase bone and muscle strength
decrease depression and fatigue
improve self-esteem and self-confidence
Talk To Your Doctor
People with arthritis should always discuss their exercise plans with a doctor. Certain exercises may be off-limits for people with particular types of arthritis or when your joints are swollen and inflamed. The amount and form of exercise recommended for each person can vary depending on:
type of arthritis
levels of inflammation
stability of joints
Better exercise choices for people with arthritis may include:
walking (walking helps build strength and maintain joint flexibility)
tai chi (a gentle martial arts exercise with origins in ancient China)
yoga (low stress yoga can provide pain relief, relax stiff muscles and ease sore joints)
water exercise/swimming (warm water exercise is an excellent way for those with arthritis to build up strength, ease stiff joints and relax sore muscles)
bicycling/cycling (cycling, both indoor and outdoor, may provide a good low impact exercise option)
running/jogging (running may still be good exercise for those with arthritis if they run on softer surfaces, but, walking or more gentle forms of exercise may be a better option for people with arthritis in their lower extremities)
Exercise: Essential Treatment For Arthritis
How To Exercise When You Have Arthritis
Weight Control & Arthritis
Diet, Exercise & Nutrition
Weight Loss at About
Exercise at About
NIH Publications 04-4992, 01-4855, 03-4031
Last update 12/24/05