According to a recent article, people with psoriasis are less likely to exercise than those without psoriasis. Pain, stiffness, and swelling lead many people with psoriatic arthritis to give up on exercise and become increasingly sedentary. Those with visible psoriasis lesions may feel reluctant to exercise at a gym or other public place.
However, lack of physical activity can lead to increased stiffness and contribute to the development of other conditions such as obesity, osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, and depression. Obesity increases the severity of psoriasis, and those with psoriasis have a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Exercise also helps fight inflammation and reduce stress, both of which can make psoriasis worse. For all of these reasons, exercise is an important part of staying healthy for people with psoriasis.
What does it involve?
Always check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen. If you have psoriatic arthritis, you can also consult a physical therapist for help in determining a customized exercise plan that will be safe and beneficial for you.
Regular exercise – just 20 to 30 minutes per day – can reduce your levels of pain and stiffness and help you maintain a healthy weight. Aerobic exercise keeps your heart healthy, increases your strength, mobility, and balance, and improves bowel function. Resistance training such as weight-lifting builds muscle strength and healthy bones as well as making you less prone to injury and quicker to recover from injuries. Stretching activities such as yoga can improve flexibility, strength, and range of motion as well as relaxing your muscles. Exercise can lessen depression and promote social interaction.
Whatever type of exercise you choose, follow these general safety guidelines. Always begin your workout session with a gradual warm-up and take the time to cool down afterward. Warming up and cooling down will help prevent sore or pulled muscles. Exercise should be somewhat challenging, but never a struggle. If at any point during exercise you feel sick or in pain, stop right away. Make certain the exercise space is well-lit, not slippery, and free of trip hazards. Stay hydrated with plenty of cool liquids, choosing beverages without caffeine.
Those with psoriatic skin lesions should wear extra loose clothing to avoid uncomfortable rubbing. Apply a lubricant such as petroleum jelly in any areas likely to become irritated. If you feel are area beginning to flare up, immediately apply topical medication to stop the inflammation. Take a brief, warm shower or bath right after you finish exercising, then apply moisturizers.
It is important to choose a type of exercise you will enjoy. Many types of exercise can be done at home. If you feel comfortable doing so, consider joining a class to keep you motivated and incorporate social aspects.
Aerobic exercise can take many forms. Walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary or recumbent bike, or swimming can all provide effective exercise for your heart and lungs.
Resistance training such as lifting weights can be done seated, and it can involve as light a weight as you can lift comfortably. Even small amounts of weight or resistance provide benefits.
Some people with psoriatic arthritis benefit from water exercises such as swimming laps or doing water aerobics. Whatever type of activity you prefer, you may find it easier to do in the water. Because your body feels lighter and more buoyant, you may find it may be easier to lift weights or do cardiovascular exercises. You may also feel more flexible, making it less difficult to stretch. Water also provides some natural resistance to movement, increasing the benefits of even very gentle movements.
Yoga consists of moving your body into an array of different positions that provide stretching and various levels of challenge for strength, flexibility, and balance. There are many types of yoga and many different teaching styles. The right yoga class can provide many benefits for those with psoriatic arthritis. You may need to ask several questions before finding an appropriate class and an experienced teacher. There are special yoga classes for older people or people with physical disabilities. Many yoga poses can be done while seated.
Daily activities such as shopping, gardening, or walking a pet can also provide safe, valuable exercise.
It is important not to become discouraged early on when beginning an exercise regimen. Set attainable goals and focus on finding ways of staying active that are safe, enjoyable and easy to do regularly. If you experience a flare-up in one joint, adjust your workout program to protect that joint while continuing to exercise safely.
Exercise can help you achieve and maintain your best condition. A regular exercise regimen can reduce pain and stiffness, preserve range of motion, increase strength and well-being, promote a healthy weight, stave off heart disease and diabetes, and improve your mood and self-esteem. It can help you avoid injury and recover more quickly.
Research shows that regular exercise helps people maintain a healthy weight and reduce inflammation and stress. Studies involving people with psoriatic arthritis have indicated that regular exercise can help keep joints flexible.
Some psoriatic arthritis symptoms, such as pain and stiffness, can make it difficult to stay motivated to keep up with exercise. Side effects of medication can also interfere.
Those with skin lesions may find that exercise causes discomfort.
Exercise may cause sore muscles.
Those with a disability or spinal problems should take extra care to prevent injury while exercising. Choose exercises that can be modified for your safety.
Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to travel to group exercise classes.