The stiff joints, skin inflammation and flare-ups that accompany psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are no walk in the park. So aside from medications, how can you ease these painful symptoms? It may be the opposite of what you feel like doing: getting some exercise!
If you have PsA, staying active can make your life better in several important ways. It improves the range of motion in your inflamed joints, reduces swelling, boosts your endurance and helps prevent weight gain, reducing the stress on your joints. Moderate exercise also helps to strengthen muscles and support your bones to keep joints flexible. Not only that, but frequent bouts of activity can also boost endorphin levels, which is great to ease the emotional strain and stress of PsA pains. This brain chemical also works to revamp energy, acts as a natural pain reliever and can even promote more restful slumber.
Best ways to work out with PsA
You’ve seen how physical activity is key to reduce the effects of arthritis – now it’s time to make some moves. First off, sit down with your doctor and discuss which activities are safe for you, considering your fitness level and PsA symptoms. Not sure where to go after that? Check out these five pointers to help you get fit.
- Choose low-impact activities. Staying active is important, but so is protecting your body. During a flare-up, you don’t want high-impact activities like running or jumping rope wreaking havoc on your joints. Try some flexibility exercises like yoga or tai chi, which stretch and strengthen muscles without overworking sensitive joints.
- Walk your way to better health. Walking is one of the easiest and cheapest forms of exercise. Whether you walk at your local gym, at a shopping mall or around your neighborhood, walking can work wonders for your body. Kudos if you walk regularly with a buddy or two, which has been shown to improve overall wellness and elevate mood. If your knees, feet or ankles are affected by arthritis, consider using a walking aid or shoe insert to avoid putting too much pressure on those tender joints.
- Make a splash. Swimming has been touted as one of the best ways to stay fit for people with PsA. The water’s buoyancy helps support your weight, so there’s minimal stress on your body. Whether you walk or swim laps, it’s a solid cardio workout that can strengthen your back, shoulders and hips. An extra perk: if you swim in a pool that is heated, the warm water can help loosen stiff joints.
- Warm up before working out. No matter which exercise you partake in, stretching beforehand is key to avoid injury and get your blood flowing. The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends stretching for 15 minutes prior to starting your fitness routine. Don’t rush your stretches; take your time with each one. Bend, flex and rotate your whole body for the most benefits.
- Work your way up gradually. When you first begin working out, you’ll probably feel sore or stiff – that’s normal. However, it’s important to listen to your body. If an activity is causing you pain, stop immediately and consult your doctor. It also helps to ease into your new fit lifestyle. For example, if you’re taking up walking, begin with 15 minutes and work your way up to 30 minutes at least three times a week over time.
Don’t get down on yourself if you don’t see results immediately. The important thing is to stay strong, active and healthy in the long run.
This content originally appeared on Sharecare.com.