It is important to look after your general health. This is especially important if you have an injury or any condition that affects the muscles and joints.

Lifestyle factors such as exercise, smoking, diet and alcohol can determine how your body will react to pain & injury and how well you recover.

General health


Being active and undertaking regular exercise is extremely important. You do not need to join a gym, nor do you need special equipment. Small changes to everyday activities can help decrease your pains and increase your fitness level. An active lifestyle can have many benefits for both your physical and mental health. Regular exercise can help you:

  • Build and maintain strong muscles and bones
  • Reduce pain and increase pain tolerance
  • Increase flexibility, balance and endurance
  • Reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis
  • Increase energy levels and help make everyday tasks easier
  • Feel happier by reducing anxiety, stress and improving sleep quality

The Department of Health and Social care recommends that adults should:

Be physically active every day. Any activity is better than none.

  • Minimise time spent sitting or lying down.
  • Stretch and Strengthen all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms)
  • Do 2.5 hours of moderate intensity aerobic activity per week (e.g. brisk walking, cycling, swimming)


  • 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity per week (e.g. sprinting, skipping, sports)


  • Aim to complete a combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activities

Physical activity guidelines for aduts.pdf [pdf] 541KB

For guidance on exercises you can do, please visit:

NHS UK (Exercise)

NHS UK (Fitness Studio exercise videos)

CSP (Exercise and advice leaflets)

Versus Arthritis (Exercising with arthritis)

NHS - Better Health - Get Active

Health eating 

A healthy diet is very important to your physical wellbeing. It can help to prevent some long-term illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. It can also help you to keep a healthy weight. This is very important in preventing aches and pains by reducing strain on joints, muscles and ligaments. A balanced diet can also help increase energy levels, boost your immune system and promote quicker healing from injuries.

A healthy diet should typically be:

  • One third carbohydrates such as rice, pasta, bread and potatoes
  • One third fruit and vegetables.  At least 5 portions of fruit or vegetables per day.
  • One third proteins and dairy such as meats, fish, milk, yoghurt and cheese
  • Two litres of water throughout the day
  • Low in fats, especially those found in foods such as biscuits, cakes, butter and oils
  • Low in sugary foods and drinks such as chocolates, sweets and fizzy drinks
  • Low in salt which can help prevent high blood pressure

For more information on healthy eating, please visit:

NHS UK (Eat well)

Beating heartbreak Together (Healthy Eating)

For help with losing weight: Better Health - Losing weight


Smoking can cause immediate and long-term effects on physical health and is linked to many serious health problems. Smoking increases the risks of getting cancer, heart and respiratory diseases. It also affects your bones and joints and increases the risk of developing osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and back pain.

Smoking has a negative effect on your physical health by:

  • Damaging lungs which prevents muscles and body tissue from receiving enough oxygen
  • Reducing endurance and limiting physical ability due to breathlessness
  • Contributing to circulatory illnesses, slowing down the healing process and recovery from injury
  • Increasing the risk of injuries such as tendonitis, bursitis, sprains and fractures
  • Giving up smoking is an important step in improving your overall fitness and well-being.

For information on help available to quit smoking, please visit: StopSmokingLondon and Better Health - Quit smoking

Visit NHS UK (quit smoking) for information on:

  • Personal quit plans
  • Stop smoking aids
  • The NHS Stoptober app - A 28 day smoke-free challenge. If completed, you're 5 times more likely to quit for good!


Drinking too much alcohol can cause chronic physical and mental health issues. It can cause liver damage, cardiovascular disease and many types of cancer.  Excessive alcohol consumption can play a large part in injuries that cause long term pain and discomfort. These can include sprains, broken bones and whiplash injuries.

Reducing your alcohol intake can help:

  • Increase energy levels, reduce weight and enable a more active lifestyle.
  • Speed up recovery and healing by allowing your hormones to work effectively
  • Prevent calcium and vitamin D imbalance in your body which can lead to weakened bones, osteoporosis and increased risk of fractures.
  • Prevent changes in the central nervous system leading to depression, anxiety and memory loss.

For further advice and access to support services, please visit:

NHS UK (alcohol support)

Drinkware or Drinkaware? (advice)

Better Health - Drink less

Emotional wellbeing

Because your mind and body are so closely linked, the symptoms you get and the feelings you have, can influence each other. This is why your emotional health is also important to consider.  Factors that can affect your physical and mental health are anxiety, depression, emotional stress and fatigue.

You can talk to your GP about mental health, or you can self refer via Talking Therapies.

Mental Health Crisis Lines

If you are experiencing something that makes you feel unsafe, distressed, or worried about your mental health, you can now contact your local crisis service calling:

111 Option 2  for Mental Health, or Mental Health Direct on 0800 995 1000

If you currently receive a service from a team at NELFT, such as a local community mental health team or a psychiatrist, then you can make contact with them directly during office hours, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. It may be helpful to refer to your care plan, which should have details of who to contact in an emergency.

Free listening services (NHS UK)

Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: for a reply within 24 hours.
Text "SHOUT" to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text "YM" if you're under 19.
If you are under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.

How can I look after my emotional wellbeing?

There are many ways you can look after your emotional wellbeing. Why not try some of the tips below?

Keep up with activities you enjoy, or take up a new one. This could be anything:  gardening, reading, walking or cooking.

Stay connected – to family, friends or the local community. If you’re feeling isolated, follow your interests (join a gardening club, book club or singing group, for example). Keep active – many people say their arthritis symptoms lessen if they exercise.

Give back – this could be a small gesture, such as complimenting someone, or a larger one, such as volunteering at a charity shop or soup kitchen.

For information on helping your emotional wellbeing please see links below:

NHS UK (10 stress busters)

NHS UK (Every Mind Matters)

Mind (Coronavirus and your wellbeing)