Osteoarthritis and Diabetes Mellitus often co-exist in older adults with underlying shared risk factors of age, obesity and sedentary life styles.
Therefore, lifestyle changes are very important in this population to help both Diabetes and Osteoarthritis. These include:
1. Weight Loss
Every 1 kg of extra body weight puts about 6 kg of extra load on knees. Reducing weight not only minimizes damage to weight bearing joints like knees but also reduces resistance to Insulin, thereby helping diabetes control as well.
A healthy diet rich in proteins, fibres, healthy fats helps keeping Bone Mass Index (BMI) in correct range; which helps both Diabetes and Osteoarthritis. It should be high in fiber and low in carbohydrates. Fruits, Eggs, Green leafy vegetables, Nuts, Unsweetened yoghurt etc should be incorporated in diet.
Losing even 5 to 10% of body weight helps.
2. Regular exercise
Regular exercises help to control diabetes as well as strengthen muscles as per American Diabetes Association. Strong muscles take load off joints slowing down their wear process.
There is enough evidence that at least 30 minutes of regular exercise at least 5 times a week not only reduces blood sugar level but also reduces resistance to insulin in the body.
The exercises mentioned below are particularly useful:
- Cycling helps to achieve all the above mentioned goals while putting minimal stress on joints
- Walking: Start slowly and build up gradually as tolerated
- Swimming: This is joint friendly and overall a very good exercise
- Yoga: It helps in controlling sugar levels as well as Blood pressure. It makes body flexible, improves sleep quality and uplifts mood.
- Aerobic precise activities e.g. dance
Special emphasis must be given the importance of physical activity to improve metabolism and decrease disability and pain in this population.