Welcome to Ask Joni, an advice column by Joni Kazantzis, the community guide for Bezzy Psoriasis. Joni has lived with psoriasis for over 25 years and is passionate about sharing what she has learned with others. In her column, Joni answers questions sourced directly from community members. To have your questions answered, join one of Joni’s nightly live discussions.
Staying active while living with psoriasis can provide both physical and emotional benefits. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, regular exercise can help fight inflammation in the body which is said to worsen psoriasis.
Stress is my biggest psoriasis trigger, and I’ve found that maintaining an exercise routine helps me to manage my stress levels, which, as a result, helps keep my psoriasis in check.
Living with psoriasis can be mentally challenging and can decrease self-esteem and increase negative self-talk. Studies have determined that regular exercise is associated with a more positive mood and a reduction in negative thoughts.
Here are a few tips to incorporate exercise into your schedule when you live with psoriasis.
If you’re new to exercising, don’t start with a high impact HIIT class. Start by talking with your healthcare team to determine what type of exercise makes the most sense for you and your psoriasis.
Taking regular walks is an easy way to get started. You can also find a class for beginners or one that can be adapted to your fitness level. Start with a few days for a short time each week and monitor how you feel, in terms of psoriasis as well as your fatigue. When you do too much too soon, you risk getting injured or frustrated. The goal should be to build up your fitness level over time.
Motivation comes and goes. Building discipline is what will keep exercise in your routine. Time can be limited, and life is busy, but schedule your workouts, just like you would schedule a doctor’s appointment or a work meeting.
When a block of time isn’t available, focus on small ways to incorporate movement into your existing routine.
That being said, be sure to give yourself some grace. If you’re experiencing a flare and your scheduled workout sounds like the last thing on earth you want to do, consider swapping your run for some low impact yoga.
Fatigue and pain are symptoms of psoriasis, and there will be days when you just need to listen to your body and limit movement. And that’s OK. Instead, use that time to be kind to yourself and your psoriasis. Take an Epsom salt soak in the tub, spend some time with your journal, or just relax on the couch.
If you’re struggling to find motivation, try to exercise with a partner or friends. If you’re not close to anyone who shares your goals, check out your neighborhood groups to see if anyone is looking for an exercise buddy, or consider joining an online fitness community.
Not only is exercise more fun with a friend, but you’re also less likely to skip a workout or start late if you have an accountability partner. You can challenge one another and celebrate accomplishing your goals together.
The locker room can be a scary place when you have a flare. If you’re not comfortable changing out in the open, most gyms have a restroom or private changing room that you can use. Or plan to wear your workout clothes right to the gym, then change as soon as you get home.
Choose clothing that helps you feel comfortable and confident. The combination of tight clothing and sweat can irritate your skin, so choose looser, breathable fabrics. Usually, my go-to fabric with a psoriasis flare is cotton. But when it comes to dressing for exercise, cotton can add irritation to your spots. Cotton absorbs moisture quickly, so your clothing will end up heavy and sticky on your skin by the time you’re done with a sweaty workout.
Sweat can irritate psoriasis plaques, so try to wash it off as soon as you can. Also, opt for a cool shower when possible. Hot water can dry out your skin and cause additional irritation to plaques. A cool shower will also cool you down so that you stop sweating. As soon as you’re out of the shower, apply a heavy moisturizer or body oil to prevent your skin from drying out further.
It’s essential for people with psoriasis to stay hydrated. Drinking ample water helps your skin stay hydrated and helps reduce dryness and itchiness. You’ll lose fluids through sweat while you exercise, so be sure to replace those liquids.
Exercise will benefit you mentally and physically, and can help to manage psoriasis flares. Listening to your body is an essential part of including exercise in your lifestyle. Start by talking with your doctor, plan to start slowly, and build from there.
Medically reviewed on November 14, 2022
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