Woman exercising

Managing osteoarthritis with weight loss

Lightening the load for a brighter life

Osteoarthritis (OA) is a degenerative joint disease affecting millions of people worldwide. It can cause pain, stiffness and reduce your mobility. While there's no cure, managing OA often involves a multilayered approach with lifestyle changes, including weight loss, playing a crucial role in improving quality of life.


Understanding the connection between osteoarthritis and weight

The link between OA and weight is direct and significant. Excess weight acts as a constant burden on your joints, particularly on weight-bearing ones like your knees and hips. This increased pressure accelerates the breakdown of cartilage (the hallmark of OA!), leading to more pain, inflammation and reduced function. The good news? Losing as little as 5% in weight can significantly reduce knee pain and improve function in people living with OA [1].


More than just pain relief

The positive impact of weight loss on OA goes far beyond simply reducing pain. It can:

  • Improve your mobility – by taking the strain off your joints, weight loss makes it easier to move around, perform daily tasks and participate in activities you enjoy.
  • Boost your mood and energy levels – losing weight can reduce the fatigue and depression often associated with chronic pain, leading to a more positive outlook and increased energy levels.
  • Reduce your risk of other health complications – being overweight is a risk factor for several chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. Weight loss can help to reduce these risks.
  • Enhance the quality of your sleep – being in pain and feeling uncomfortable can disrupt sleep, but losing those extra kilos can lead to better sleep patterns which in turn can lead to improvements in pain [2].


Make weight loss work for you

Losing weight might seem like a daunting prospect, but with the right approach it can be a transformative journey. It’s important to:

  • Seek support – don't go it alone! Speak to your GP or dietitian for advice and support to help you stay motivated and on track. You could also share your goals with trusted friends and family.
  • Start small and set realistic goals – aim for gradual, sustainable weight loss. Focus on consistent healthy habits like portion control, increasing fruit and veggies, and choosing whole grains (and stay away from unsustainable fad diets).
  • Find your fit – speak to your GP or physio about what physical activity would be a good starting point for you to build strength and flexibility in your muscles and joints. Try out different things until you find the activities you like to keep it enjoyable (maybe with an exercise buddy)!
  • Mind your mindset – focus on the positive changes you're making and celebrate your achievements, no matter how small. Remember, even a little weight loss can make a big difference in managing OA and improving your quality of life.


Supporting our members

Teachers Health has partnered with Prima Health Solutions to deliver the Osteoarthritis Healthy Weight For Life program for eligible members. The 18-week diet, exercise and education program is designed to help relieve the symptoms of OA, reduce joint pain, improve mobility and quality of life, and potentially delay or avoid joint surgery. It can also help you to prepare for surgery if that’s the right option for you.

Teachers Health members managing OA or other chronic health conditions may be eligible for support through our range of health management programs.


A future that’s brighter (and lighter!)

Remember, your journey with OA doesn't have to be defined by limitations. Taking control of your weight, even in small steps, will help to empower you to move with freedom, find joy in everyday activities, and paint a brighter future for your overall health and wellbeing.


Prima Health Solutions supports Teachers Health members through the Osteoarthritis Healthy Weight For Life Program.