Psoriasis and Exercise

exercise and psoriasis

Are you Exercising Yet?

“A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world”. Paul Dudley White

Psoriasis and exercise are important considerations for those who want to recover. Do want to pick up the pace of your psoriasis improvement? Then you may be surprised to know that exercise can help speed your recovery from psoriasis. Some people are concerned that they may develop a flare-up and avoid exercise, and other psoriasis patients I know don’t feel comfortable exercising on public, but it is important to let you know that exercise can be your friend in you quest to improve your skin. Many people over 50 are simply not active enough, and to prevent heart and circulatory disease and many other diseases of modern civilization, exercise is one of the most important factors. The good news, though, is that even modest amounts of physical activity are good for your health. There is no doubt, the more active you are, the more you’ll benefit! While I have no doubt that regular exercise is important, many people don’t place enough value on the fitness that comes from everyday tasks like lifting and chasing children, lugging groceries around, spending time in the garden and even in cleaning your house.

There are so many benefits of being physically active, it will open up a whole new life to you and will be worth it! You’ll feel great because your metabolic rate increases resulting in an increased ability to maintain your normal, health weight. You will most certainly feel and be healthier; you will reduce your chance of getting diabetes, will have lower your blood pressure and even sleep better.

The Three Main Types Of Physical Activity

  1. Aerobic or heart and lung fitness.
  2. Muscle-strengthening or resistance training.
  3. Flexibility exercises or stretching.

You can do physical activity with light, moderate, or vigorous intensity, and the level of intensity depends on how hard you have to work to do the activity. The ultimate is to engage in the different forms of exercise to get the maximum benefit.

How Long Do I Have To Exercise For?

For major health benefits, adults should do at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity daily or about an hour of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week. Naturally, the best option is to do a combination of both. The more you exercise, the easier it becomes and the more you will enjoy it.

You don’t have to do the activity all at once! You can break it up into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each. Running, swimming, walking, bicycling, dancing, and doing other examples of aerobic activity.

If you have a heart problem or chronic disease, such as heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure, talk with your doctor about what types of physical activity are safe for you, you may need a check-up and get your blood pressure and heart rate established before you embark on any exercise program, especially if you are in your 50’s.

Always talk with your doctor about safe physical activities if you have symptoms such as chest pain or dizziness before you consider any exercise regime.

Ideas For Activity Include:

  1. Swimming, snorkeling.
  2. Walking the dog.
  3. Vacuuming, washing windows – vigorous housework.
  4. Climbing the stair instead of using the escalator at airports, shops, etc.
  5. Getting off the bus one stop earlier than you have to and walking the rest of the way.
  6. Golf, croquet, lawn bowls, etc.
  7. Gardening  – mowing, pruning, going to the dump, etc.
  8. Join a gym/exercise group.

How Those With Psoriasis Benefit From Exercise

Dr. Alan Menter (Chairman of Dermatology at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas) believes that exercise can play a major role for those who are being treated for psoriasis. Dr. Menter has told WebMD that exercise helps to control the weight of those with psoriasis, and that people with psoriasis tend to be on average around 7 percent heavier than those without psoriasis.

What is not clear at present is the relationship between the two, but a likely link is inflammation. Those who carry more weight, especially those who are obese, tend to suffer more with chronic and generally silent inflammation. Inflammation has been linked with psoriasis. Those who carry more weight tend to produce more fat cells, and obesity has been linked with chronic inflammation. Dr. Paul Yamauchi, M.D., PhD. (spokesperson for the National Psoriasis Foundation as well as Medical Director of the Dermatology Institute and Skin Care Center of Santa Monica, California) has stated that the chronic inflammation as a result of obesity is even more difficult to control than the obesity itself, and that exercise offers many benefits to those with psoriasis. Those with psoriasis are also more prone to heart disease, diabetes and many other chronic diseases. Exercise may also make psoriasis medication work better, and psoriasis treatment tends to not work as well in overweight people as they do in people within the normal body mass index range.

Exercise Challenges for People With Psoriasis

Those with psoriasis may face many different challenges when they exercise, for example, they may be embarrassed and more loath to bare their arms or legs at the swimming pool or gym. There will be a good chance they don’t enjoy summer outdoor activities like golf , hiking or cycling as much as those who don’t have any visible skin problems, and they may shy away from gym shorts, tank tops or bathing suits.

To avoid embarrassment or strangers staring at them, I’ve found that many with psoriasis tend to stay indoors more and play it safe. And for this reason they get less exercise and any benefits derived from daily exercise that so many engage in. When you start to combine this withdrawn behavior with isolation and sedentary lifestyles, as well as potential depression and anxiety that some with chronic psoriasis have, you tend to get more potential overeating and over drinking occuring, a recipe for weight gain, obesity and increased inflammation.

Here are some particular points of challenge for those with psoriasis who want to exercise:

  • Any sports injury that damages the skin may potentially trigger psoriasis, this is what is known as the Koebner response.
  • Psoriasis thrives on friction, and any sweat, heat and friction in those key areas such as the groin, breast or abdominal folds can worsen psoriasis. Skin abrasions to sensitive skin can trigger psoriasis within a few weeks.
  • Those with psoriatic arthritis may find that their joints may play up and become increasingly painful with exercise. Psoriatic arthritis is a kind of psoriasis that develops in about twenty five percent of those with psoriasis.

Tips To Prevent Psoriasis Flare-Ups When Exercising

The first thing you will want to do is to prevent trauma to your skin by excess rubbing or friction.

  • Gently lubricate the “hot spots” such as the groin, the abdominal or breast folds or between the thighs or buttocks to prevent any needless chaffing. Use a natural moisturizer like jojoba or emu oil. I tend to tell my psoriasis patients to steer clear from those petroleum (crude derivative) products like Bio Oil.
  • Try to select and wear looser clothing, preferably cotton that absorbs any perspiration rather than 100 percent nylon. Looser clothing prevents constriction and areas of potential friction.
  • Use tepid to warm water when you shower or bathe, and don’t rub or scrub your skin too hard or you may aggravate it and stimulate any potential underlying areas of inflammation.

 Exercise Tips For Those Who Have Psoriasis

I have found that those who exercise quite vigorously every day may be doing themselves a disservice and even possibly be aggravating their psoriasis because of how much stress they place on their metabolism, skin and their digestive system. This is not something I have read anywhere else; it is a personal observation I have made in my clinic after working with many athletes and patients who exercise a lot that have psoriasis.

Exercise heats up the body, and it is important for you to not only understand that and kind of skin lesions or infections are aggravated or exacerbated by exercise due to the increased moisture caused by perspiration, I believe that any psoriasis can possibly be aggravated by any exercise that is too vigorous or too excessive.

  1. Those with chronic psoriasis need to take extra care and shower immediately after any exercise and wear cotton undergarments.
  2. Cool the body down gradually after you exercise by having a tepid then cool shower. This will prevent you body from maintaining a slightly higher than normal peripheral temperature which can aggravate a yeast infection, an increase in digestive problems and disturbed sleep.
  3. Avoid having a sauna if you have a chronic yeast infection, it will heat your body core up too much, I’ve found that saunas frequently aggravate those with chronic yeast infections and some just feel worse and may even experience headaches, dizziness and many different types of skin and digestive flare-ups.
  4. Those with athlete’s foot need to dry their feet carefully in particular after showering and wear sandals preferably until the feet are completely dry. Buy a few pairs of top quality running shoes and be sure to rotate them, place a few drops in the toe and heel area once per week, this will help to completely eradicate athlete’s foot and toe nail fungus in time. Be patient! Apply a little tea tree oil to the nails and feet after drying them.
  5. Guys with any jock itch pr skin rashes affecting their groin should also shower immediately after any exercise, dry themselves carefully and thoroughly and wear 100% cotton undergarments only.
  6. Don’t use antiperspirants! You don’t want to block the flow of perspiration, and if you want to mask any body odor then use an organic product like Aubrey Organics or the brand called Jason.
  7. Be especially of not falling into the trap of carbohydrate replenishing drinks if your cycle or run. Many people drink energy drinks, soda drinks or those fancy sports drinks that contain a high amount of refined carbohydrates. And I’m sorry, but you won’t “burn it off” because you are exercising!
  8. Keep yourself well hydrated. It is important to drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise. Water improves most all aspects of your digestive system and allows the body to fight a yeast infection all by itself generally.