How Can Exercise Impact Psoriasis?
Exercise – we should all do more of it. Even if you’re a very motivated person, it can be tough to get yourself off the couch. But it’s even more difficult for psoriasis patients. Rather than suffering the stares of people at the gym or covering up with a sweat suit, many with psoriasis find it’s easier just to stay home.
However, exercise may be an option if you’re looking for new ways to manage your condition. According to Dr. Colin Theng of the National Skin Centre, there is increasing scientific evidence that exercise can benefit psoriasis patients. “In one recent trial, obese patients with moderate to severe psoriasis who were not responding to systemic treatment were placed on dietetic intervention and increased physical exercise over a 20-week period,” notes Dr. Theng. “This led to improvement in the severity of the psoriasis of patients, suggesting there are benefits to exercise and diet modification.”
Exercise may also be able to help if you’ve got psoriatic arthritis. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, arthritis-friendly exercises such as yoga, tai chi or gentle water exercises can decrease joint pain and improve flexibilityi . And exercise may sometimes help restore lost movement in patients who have lost it due to psoriatic arthritis, the AAD saysii.
Exercise can also help you limit the psoriasis flare-ups that stress can cause. Perhaps you’re familiar with this cycle: A stressful situation causes a psoriasis flare-up, which leads to more stress, making the flare-up even worse. To avoid this, try to stay active, the U.S. National Psoriasis Foundation suggestsiii . According to the NPF, exercise increases the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that can give you more energy or boost your mood.
If you’re interested in getting fit, it’s best to exercise in moderation at first. “Start with brisk walking or slow jogging, then gradually step up the intensity,” Dr. Theng says. He also advises that in a country as hot as Singapore, patients should be mindful of the temperature when exercising. If you plan to exercise outside, it may be best to do so in the mornings and evenings, when it’s cooler, or hit the gym instead.