How do I exercise with psoriasis?

Group of women doing yoga in sunny park

This content reflects the views of the individual blogger and is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.

We all know exercise is good us. But finding the motivation to do exercise can be difficult especially if you have psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA). Many with these conditions can find fatigue to be a side-effect of the conditions which can making wanting or having the energy to exercise more challenging!

Also, if you have visible patches and are suffering from flaking then it can be uncomfortable and make you self-conscious. If you’re feeling down during a flare, it can be hard to motivate yourself to work out. However, there are also plenty of reasons to make exercise a priority.

Exercise doesn’t mean going to the gym, it means finding an activity that gets your heart rate up that you enjoy. Going to the gym is something I personally hate with a passion; I hate cardio and I am just not a big fan of ‘gym culture’. For some people that’s the idea of heaven which is great but if not, below is how I make sure I exercise without stepping in the gym or irritating my psoriasis or PsA.

Physical Exercise

When someone mentions exercise or working out, things that spring to mind may be the gym, lifting weights and intense sessions. But it doesn’t have to be and for me it certainly isn’t. If, like me, that isn't your thing, then there are plenty of other ways to get a good workout on your own. Taking a walk, jog, or bike ride in your local area is a great and easy way to get some fresh air and exercise! The most important thing though, is that you are doing a form of exercise that you enjoy. If you aren’t doing something you enjoy then you are going to find every excuse not to do it!

For me personally, I love yoga and Pilates. Both can be done at your own speed, and in the comfort of your own home. Plus, there are plenty of YouTube videos you can follow along with meaning it’s also free!

I love these forms of exercise because they are mostly low impact which really helps to improve my movement and ease stiffness caused by PsA. Yoga and Pilates are also both exercises which you can start by doing simple moves and build up the more you partake in the practice. With these activities it’s all about your own individual practice, most teachers will ask you to set an intention at the beginning of class which helps focus your mind on what you want to achieve in that session – regardless of what is happening around you.

I have also found that the concentration and deep breathing techniques used in yoga and Pilates can also help to ease stress, encourage patience and help me forget about any pain caused by my patches or PsA. Even when I lack motivation, once I get on the mat and complete a session – I never regret it.

Whatever your activity of choice is, there may be times when you’re just not up to it – I find this to be especially true if I am in the midst of a flare. Therefore, I ensure that I am always listening to my body and taking days off when I need them. I find that if I force myself to work out our or exercise then it may result in an even worse flare-up.

Mental Exercise

When people think about exercise they usually only think about physical exercise. I truly believe that looking after and exercising our mental health is just as important as physical exercise. One of my favourite ways to exercise and relax my mind is through meditation.

There are loads of great apps out there to help and guide you through meditation exercises if you are new to meditation or if you would rather be guided through. I much prefer guided meditations, even now, as my mind can wander and it is nice to have someone there (well on my phone) to guide me through those thoughts and back to my zen.

Meditation has really helped me handle my emotions during flare ups of psoriasis or PsA. I tend to not get as annoyed or upset with myself for having them. Rather I am accepting of the flare ups and realise that it is out with my control. I know that I am doing everything I can to ensure I my psoriasis/PsA gets better and eventually they will be in a controlled state again. Like with yoga and Pilates, the concentration and deep breathing techniques used has helped me to ease stress and become more patient with myself. I was not this calm and collected about it before I started meditating, believe me!

I hope my experience of how exercise has helped my psoriasis and PsA has been beneficial and encourages you to get out there and do your favourite activities more!

MAT-35899 July 2020

Article developed in partnership with LEO Pharma.

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