How Diet And Exercise Can Help Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that results in red, flaky, and itchy skin. Psoriasis is an immune-mediated disease, meaning it is the result of the immune system overreacting. In the case of psoriatic arthritis one of several types of psoriasis the condition manifests as inflammation of the joints and the connective tissue between the joints, not the skin.
Treatment of psoriasis includes oral anti-inflammatory or antirheumatic drugs and biologic therapies that are injected or infused. However, there are several things you can do to help improve your general health and the symptoms of psoriasis that dont involve medication. Regular physical activity, eating healthy foods, and managing your stress levels can help control psoriasis and its symptoms. An added bonus: diet and exercise dont just impact your psoriasis, they have a positive affect on your overall health and quality of life.
It is important to consult a health care professional before starting any new diet or exercise regimen, and to assist with managing psoriasis symptoms.
Stretch Throughout The Day
Dr. Iversen encourages people to stretch and move throughout the day because that can help with joint stiffness, especially if your lifestyle involves sitting at a computer for hours every day. Studies have shown that its very important to change position often, meaning every hour or so if you can, whether its to get up and get a glass of water or change your position at your desk, Dr. Iversen says.
Even if youre active throughout the day, its really important to stretch and warm up if youre going to do strength training, Dr. Iversen says. She explains that when you have joint pain, you tend to flex your joints by default. The problem is, this creates tightness in your extensor muscles , which can impact your form and increase your risk of injury. The specific stretches she recommends vary from person to person. I tend to have people focus on whats bothering them the most, Dr. Iversen says.
For instance, you might start by doing 10 minutes of gentle cardio for your warm-up followed by a few yoga poses for tight hips if they feel stiff. After that, you can start your strength-training session.
Various Exercise Options Available
As mentioned earlier, it is very important to choose the exercise/set of exercises that you enjoy doing. Below is a list of most common exercise activities:
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How Exercise Benefits People With Psoriasis
If simple measures are implemented, exercise can relieve symptoms, improve the effectiveness of treatments, decrease stress and help you maintain a healthy weight.
- Aids circulation and can help medications used to treat psoriasis work better.
- Relieves discomfort due to psoriatic arthritis.
- Supports the bodys own natural detoxification processes.
- Promotes the production of endorphins, which increase your mood and relieve pain.
Problems arise when exercise is done without taking precautions to relieve the physical stress on the body. For example, if you wear clothing that does not allow the free flow of air to your skin, lesions may become irritated and flare up.
Precautions To Take While Exercising With Psoriasis
While exercise clearly provides benefits for psoriasis sufferers, there are some simple precautions you must take in order to prevent flare-ups and injuries. By implementing preventative strategies you will get the maximum benefits from your workout and enjoy the activity more.
Choose exercises that are appropriate for your current level of fitness, and consider the following before beginning:
- If you have not exercised in a while, meet with your health care provider prior to beginning an exercise program. Begin slowly and concentrate on activities that gently stretch and build strength.
- Avoid activities that jar your joints. It is important that you take steps to minimize the risk of injury as your psoriasis may flare-up if you are hurt.
- The most important kind of exercise to engage in is one you enjoy, since you will be more likely to stick with it.
- Choose activities that give your entire body a workout and select exercises that enhance flexibility and strength.
- Make sure your exercise program has an aerobic component to get your heart pumping.
- Choose exercise clothes carefully. Wear loose clothing that is created from fabric that allows free flow of air or traps perspiration away from your skin. Avoid clothing and activities that can irritate your skin.
- Apply a moisturizing barrier salve, or a light dusting of cornstarch to areas that perspire heavily and are subject to friction before you exercise.
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Data Sources And Searches
To investigate the relationship between physical activity and psoriasis, 3 reviewers systematically searched EMBASE, MEDLINE, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials electronic databases for relevant publications using the following keywords: , , , and . Our search included publications written in English and dated from January 1970 to February 2017.
Ensure Your Skins Health After You Exercise
Examine your skin after exercising for signs of irritation flare-ups are more likely to arise in areas where the skin is irritated or sweaty. You may need to modify activities or purchase different clothing if irritation occurs. If friction occurs, apply topical medications promptly.
Shower immediately after your workout. Avoid the use of coarse bath tools, such as rough washcloths, brushes or loofahs. Use natural, fragrance-free, hypoallergenic products containing few ingredients for hair and skin care after your workout. Apply moisturizers liberally.
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Range Of Motion Exercises That Hurt
Range of motion exercises are important for maintaining and increasing joint movement and reducing stiffness.
Try to do these exercises every day to help improve flexibility. You want to feel a stretch without forcing the motion or pushing through any pain.
When your joints are swollen or in pain, do your best to achieve as much range of motion as you can without increasing your pain.
What Happens If It Hurts
You must try to do some exercise every day. On days when your joints are swollen or painful you should aim to move the affected joints through as great a range as you can without aggravating your pain, regularly throughout the day. Strength and cardiovascular exercise should be performed at least three times a week but may need to be modified if a joint is painful. For example, you may choose to go swimming rather than take a walk if your knees or ankles are painful.
Exercise can lead to some discomfort. Strengthening exercises may sometimes lead to muscle ache, stretching exercises to joint ache, but neither should give rise to acute pain. If exercise leads to swelling or sharp pain, stop and make sure you are doing the exercise correctly. If discomfort lasts longer than a couple of hours you may be working too hard slow down or reduce your repetitions. It can be difficult to get started with an exercise programme. If you are unsure about any aspect of exercise, ask for advice from your doctor or a physiotherapist.What is a physiotherapist and how can I get to see one?
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Common Joints Affected By Psoriatic Arthritis
The joints most affected by psoriatic arthritis are the fingers, feet, spine, and knees.
An early diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis and the initiation of treatment are important for improving the long-term outcomes of the disease.
Psoriatic arthritis treated with medication to help manage inflammation and autoimmune response. In addition to medication, regular exercise can be beneficial to maintain proper joint function, decrease pain and stiffness, and improve strength.
According to the 2018 treatment guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology and the National Psoriasis Foundation, people with psoriatic arthritis are advised to partake in some form of exercise to improve physical functioning and quality of life.
The guidelines from the European League Against Rheumatism also recommend regular physical activity for people with inflammatory forms of arthritis, including psoriatic arthritis, divided into the domains of cardiovascular fitness, strength training, and flexibility exercises.
Take Your Workout Outdoors With Caution
Exposure to ultraviolet rays in small doses has been shown to help improve both skin psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, according to the NPF. That is, after all, the basis of as a treatment for psoriasis. At the same time, even a minor sunburn can aggravate psoriasis and cause a flare.
Overexposure to UV rays has also been linked to an increased risk of certain cancers for people who have psoriasis, including a type of skin cancer that involves the epidermis of the skin, according to a study published in October 2019 in the journal JAMA Dermatology. Note as well that having the chronic inflammation caused by psoriasis is thought to put people with the condition at an increased risk of skin cancer, as do certain treatments, including phototherapy and certain systemic medications that weaken the immune system.
That said, if you like to exercise outdoors you can do so safely by taking the same precautions everyone should, according to the NPF. Use a sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 preferably an unscented one labeled broad spectrum thats formulated for sensitive skin and contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Its fine to slather sunscreen over lesions, but best not to put it on inflamed skin. Cover up as much skin as you comfortably can with lightweight, sweat-absorbing clothing and shield your face with a brimmed hat and sunglasses.
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How Exercising Helps Psoriatic Arthritis
When you have psoriatic arthritis, your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body, causing joints to become inflamed, swollen, painful, stiff, and difficult to move. Approximately 30% of people with psoriasis will develop psoriatic arthritis.
Without proper treatment, psoriatic arthritis can progress and potentially cause permanent joint damage and disability.
Muscle Up To Help Fight Psoriasis
We get it. Making the effort to exercise is hard enough as it is. Now add psoriasis to the equation? That mental and physical hurdle can feel intimidating. But when you have a chronic condition like psoriasis, its even more important to lead a healthy lifestyle.
You might be thinking easier said than done, but weve got all kinds of tips and tricks to help you figure it out.
Remember to talk to your doctor before beginning or changing an exercise regimen.
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Why Should Someone With Psoriasis Think Differently About Exercise
As people living with an autoimmune disease like psoriasis, our bodies dont work the same as others. Were under stress because our immune system is going slightly haywire.
A lot of fitness advice that we get is, Push really hard no pain, no gain. For people with an autoimmune disease, this can make exercise a stressor. Theres a balance a tightrope that we need to walk.
Exercise can actually decrease psoriasis. But if you exercise too hard, you can overdo it. Psoriasis is aggravated by stress . When theres a flare-up and the skin gets raw and uncomfortable, thats an indication that your immune activity is really heightened.
The bottom line is you have to find the Goldilocks Principle. You need that sweet spot of not too much, but not too little. Just right.
We have a level of tolerance that our bodies can handle. If you do too much exercise, you may get into an area of intolerance. Thats when people say, I cant exercise. Exercise isnt for me.
But exercise doesnt have to look a certain way to be effective. There are multiple ways you can think about exercise.
Why It’s Important To Maintain A Healthy Weight
If you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis and you are overweight, the benefits of weight loss are clear: reduced inflammation, less severe skin disease and joint pain, improved mobility and a dramatically lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and liver disease. But what is the best way to go about losing weight?
There are hundreds of websites devoted to dieting and weight loss to choose from and that is part of the problem. Almost without exception, any diet that makes promises about rapid weight loss is bogus and should be avoided.
The truth is that if you want to lose weight you need to reduce your calorie intake and increase your calorie expenditure through physical activity. However, calorie counting can be tedious. It is healthier to focus on the overall balance of your diet. This is because healthy diets tend to be lower in calories anyway and because there are many food and nutrient combinations that can be beneficial, independently of any associated weight loss.
Below you will find the key elements of a lifestyle programme that may help you to reduce weight and improve both your psoriasis related conditions and your long-term health.
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Add More Plants To Your Diet
Itâs not clear what diet is best if you have psoriasis. But experts know a healthy way to shed pounds while getting more health-boosting fiber, vitamins, and minerals is to eat more plant-based foods. These include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes like beans and peanuts.
Lean protein fills you up, which can curb cravings longer. In addition to lean poultry, like chicken and turkey, add fatty fish to your meals at least twice a week, too. Fish like salmon, trout, and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These ultra-healthy fats reduce your risk of heart disease and may help ease psoriasis symptoms. Steer clear of processed foods and anything with added sugar, including soda and other sweetened drinks.
If youâre new to healthy eating or donât know where to start, a dietitian who specializes in skin conditions can help you come up with a plan. Your dermatologist should be able to recommend one. They can help you come up with a diet that addresses your psoriasis and helps you slim down.
Embarrassment Leads To Poorer Health
Unfortunately, many individuals who have psoriasis are sensitive about their appearance. They tend to withdraw socially and limit their involvement in healthy activities. Some people who have psoriasis feel isolated.
As a result, they may become sedentary, depressed and overweight. They may indulge in unhealthy habits, such as consuming too much alcohol. All of these actions diminish quality of life and contribute to flare-ups. If any of these characteristics sound familiar, it is time to reclaim your health and life. You can do it!
Many people who have psoriasis also dont get enough exercise because they are reluctant to be seen in gym clothes or swimsuits due to their lesions. If you are embarrassed about your lesions, choose activities that do not require wearing shorts, tank tops or swimsuits, exercise at home, or purchase lightweight clothing created from breathable fabrics.
Once you get out there and reap the benefits of exercise, you may decide to overcome your fear of showing your lesions and simply enjoy your workout.
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Get More Physical Activity Into Your Day
- Schedule 10-minute breaks in your planner or calendar and go for a short walk.
- Sitting at your desk: Do ankle rolls, heel/toe raises and knee lifts every hour or so.
- Watching TV: Do stretches and floor exercises or walk when commercials come on.
- Park farther from the door when you go to work, shopping or doctorâs appointments. Never use the drive-up ATM at the bank. Get out of the car and walk to the ATM.
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
How Do I Start
Everyone has different levels of fitness depending on the lifestyle they lead. Which joints does your arthritis affect? Choose a selection of exercises that will work these joints. Consider what you can currently do and decide on what you would like to be able to do. You can then set yourself goals to work towards, for example you may aim to participate in a local charity walk, learn to swim or be able to walk to the local shop.
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How Can I Get Started With A Psoriasis Diet
If youre going to change your diet to combat psoriasis, Wesdock recommends starting slowly. Jumping into a highly restrictive diet isnt usually sustainable and may deprive you of important nutrients. Instead, start by cutting out some highly processed foods.
Substitute the pastries and cookies with fresh fruit. Opt for herbal tea or water flavored with fresh fruit, mint or cucumber. If you think theres a specific food or ingredient thats triggering psoriasis flare-ups, talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Being overweight or obese can also make psoriasis worse, so you may want to start a weight loss plan that includes fewer calories and smaller portion sizes. Any psoriasis treatment diet should be accompanied by healthy lifestyle choices. Get plenty of sleep and regular exercise, and try to reduce stress in your life. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about a plan to quit.