Staying active with psoriasis matters. In fact, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 times a week.
While working out can help reduce inflammation from psoriasis, exercising with a skin condition can be challenging.
To help you make the most of your workout while keeping your skin safe, here are five secrets to staying active with psoriasis.
1. Customize your workout
A workout tailored to your needs can help keep psoriasis flares at bay.
The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends avoiding activities that involve standing or walking for a long time, which can put stress on your body.
Instead, consider starting your exercise program in water. Water’s buoyancy can keep your hips, knees, and spine safe while allowing you to increase your strength.
You can also play around with your day and schedule to find ideal pockets of time for physical activity.
Here are a few ways you may want to try to fit in more exercise:
- Schedule 10-minute breaks in your workday or between errands to go for a short walk.
- Do ankle rolls, heel/toe raises, and knee lifts while sitting at your desk.
- Choose a parking spot farther away when shopping or running errands.
- Do floor stretches or exercises while watching TV.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
You can also factor in range of motion when creating your custom workout routine. Psoriasis can cause stiffness in your joints. If you’re feeling stiff and want to improve your flexibility, yoga and tai chi are both great options to help make your body more limber.
Yoga helps improve blood flow to areas affected by psoriasis, while tai chi can boost your range of motion. Plus, both forms of exercise help reduce stress and improve mood.
At the end of the day, exercising should make you feel good. If you find that a certain workout is irritating your skin, it’s important to let your body rest before resuming physical activity and to avoid any exercise that makes your psoriasis worse.
Stress can aggravate psoriasis, so you may want to consider doing a low impact form of exercise — but if you find that high impact workouts don’t bother your skin, those are OK too.
2. Consider indoor vs. outdoor exercise
You may find that working out either indoors or outdoors is better for your skin. Working out indoors will protect you from sun and heat, both of which can worsen psoriasis if you get too much of them. A bad sunburn, for example, can cause psoriasis patches to form on new areas of your skin.
On the other hand, natural sunlight can be highly beneficial for psoriasis. Some people claim that being in the sun actually improves their skin’s appearance.
Depending on how severe your psoriasis is at a given time and how prone you are to burning, you may find that working out either indoors or outdoors is better for your skin.
If you do work out outdoors, be sure to wear a fragrance-free sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher (and reapply regularly), plus a hat and sunglasses.
It’s also a good idea to avoid exercising outside between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun is the strongest.
3. Find your best ’fit
Your clothing can actually play a huge role in managing psoriasis. Clothing that doesn’t irritate your skin is important, especially when you’re working out and sweating more.
Consider wearing loose clothes made of cotton, which is gentler on your skin. Or you can opt for exercise gear made of fabrics that draw moisture away from your skin, since moisture can irritate sensitive skin. Synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, are generally more effective at this than cotton.
Clothing that blocks out UV rays can be helpful for outdoor workouts in particular.
A pair of proper-fitting gym shoes is also essential. Uncomfortable shoes can place more pressure on your body, potentially making symptoms worse.
Look for shoes that provide good support and have enough space for you to move your toes around.
4. Develop a post-workout routine
Your post-workout routine is just as important as the workout routine itself.
After exercising, be sure to shower right away. This will help wash away sweat, which can aggravate psoriasis, and eliminate any dirt, especially if you worked out outside.
Try not to sit around in dirty or sweaty workout clothes, if possible.
After taking a shower, be sure to moisturize. A gentle, fragrance-free lotion can help keep rough or dry patches of psoriasis moisturized.
Also be sure to apply any prescribed topical medications. And, of course, drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
5. Listen to your body
Arguably the most important secret to staying active with psoriasis is to simply listen to your body.
After all, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all workout. If your body is telling you that you need to rest, or a specific workout is aggravating your skin or joints (regardless of how much you like it), be gentle with yourself.
Tailor your physical activity to a regimen that ultimately works for you.
Try not to get discouraged if you have to change up your routine, like switching from a high impact activity such as running to a lower impact activity such as swimming.
It’s important to take steps to both manage and prevent flares, which can cause you pain.
Physical activity is an important tool in psoriasis management. When done with psoriasis in mind, physical activity can help reduce inflammation and keep your mind and body feeling their best.
Finding and sticking to an exercise regimen that works for you is key, but so is resting when you need to. Finding balance can help you manage your psoriasis while staying active.