Researchers behind a new study believe that winters are so hard on those who suffer from arthritis because of a decline in exercise, and more time spent indoors to stay out of the cold
One reason why winters are so tough on arthritis is that people get less exercise. A lot less. A study of arthritis sufferers in Chicago, a place that knows something about winter, found that they were a third less active in November than they were in June. Essentially, they were spending three more hours a day just sitting around as the days grew shorter and temperatures dropped. And winter hadn't even officially begun.
Exercise eases arthritis pain. It increases strength and flexibility, reduces joint pain, and helps combat fatigue. And clearly the study subjects weren't getting much in November. Cold temperatures and rainfall (but not snowfall) all contributed to this decline. But the greatest factor was the lack of daylight hours later in the year.
The study tracked 241 Chicagoans with arthritis for three years by using accelerometer readings, which measure a person's energy expenditure.
Most of the participants were over 60. All had been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Over a three-year period, they wore an accelerometer up to six days a week, at three- to six-month intervals. Their energy expenditure readings were compared to Chicago's daily weather conditions and the amount of daily sunlight over the three-year period.