How to Stay Active with Psoriatic Arthritis
Staying active with psoriatic arthritis is not only a great way to maintain great health and relieve your symptoms, but to maintain a positive mental attitude, as well. This condition causes inflammation in your joints which can be protected by strengthening the muscles around them.Talk to your physician before beginning an exercise regimen. Focus on gentle, low impact sports and activities that minimize pain and offer the benefits of improving endurance, flexibility, muscle strength and range of motion. High impact activities that involve “twisting” of the joints should be avoided.In addition to sports and other forms of deliberate exercise, work to incorporate physical activity into your day-to-day routine.
Developing an Activity Plan
Consult your doctor.Most people with psoriatic arthritis can safely develop their own physical activity regimen based on their needs. However, if you have a complicating factor – heart disease, arrhythmia, or a similar condition – you should consult your doctor before adopting a new physical activity regimen.
- If you’re taking prescription medication, you should also ask your doctor how you can stay active with psoriatic arthritis.
Choose activities that accommodate you.Do not attempt exercises that exceed your capabilities. Pushing yourself too hard could result in injury. If you are elderly or infirm in addition to having psoriatic arthritis, stick to moderate-intensity exercises when staying active with psoriatic arthritis.
- Rest as needed.
- Do not irritate painful joints. For instance, if your elbow hurts due to psoriatic arthritis, try running or walking instead of lifting weights.
Try a variety of activities.You might not like every activity, but in trying various sorts of activities, you might discover some new ones to relieve your psoriatic arthritis. And trying a variety of different activities helps you prevent boredom with a predictable physical activity regimen.
Plan on warming up and cooling down.Warmup and cooldown exercises should precede and conclude, respectively, any period of physical activity. Work with your physical therapist to identify beneficial warmup and cooldown exercises. These might include:
- extending your arms straight out from your sides and rotating them in concentric circles forward and backward
- reaching down and touching your toes, and holding the position for ten seconds
- swinging your legs forward and back, and from side-to-side, in the manner of a pendulum
Doing Aerobic Exercises
Walk more often.Start by going on walks around your block. Walk alone or with friends for about 15 minutes daily. Over time, add time to your walks in five-minute increments. For instance, if you start out by walking for 15 minutes daily, extend your walk to 20 minutes after a week or so. After another week, try walking for 25 minutes daily. Continue in this way until you’re spending an amount of time walking that accord with your lifestyle and fitness level.
Ride a bike.Riding a bike is a great way to stay active with psoriatic arthritis. If the weather is poor, you could visit your local gym to use a stationary bike. If you have room in your home and really love riding your bike, of course, you could get a stationary bike of your own.
Go swimming.If you live near a beach and the weather is appropriate, head out for a swim. The buoyancy of the water makes working your arthritic joints easier. You could also swim in your own backyard if you have a pool. Even if you don’t have a pool in your backyard, you might be able to access one in your area. Many municipal athletic programs offer open swim sessions at local high schools or community athletic centers.
- If you’re interested in swimming at a community athletic center, check their website to see if and when they offer open swimming sessions.
Try cross-country skiing.Cross-country skiing is a winter activity that requires snow. To get started, you’ll need some skis, which are elongated shoe-like devices. With your skis on, push yourself along with your two ski poles, one in each hand.
- You can often rent skis at the trailhead of your local cross-country ski trails. Contact the parks and recreation department that manages your cross-country ski trails for information about the availability and cost of renting skis.
- Alternately, you could visit your local gym and use the ski machine, a stationary device that simulates cross-country skiing.
- If you really love cross-country skiing and you have space in your house, you could invest in a ski machine of your own.
Try tai chi.Tai chi is an ancient practice devised in China. It consists of moving through a sequence of slow and graceful movements, and is appropriate for people of all ages. Try doing tai chi to stay active with psoriatic arthritis.
- To get started with tai chi, visit your local traditional tai chi instructor and sign up for lessons. Use the Tai Chi Health Institute’s online instructor database to find an instructor near you.
- While you could start doing tai chi using a book or instructional DVD, it’s best to learn from an instructor who can give you personal tips and correct your form as needed.
Try yoga.Like tai chi, yoga is an ancient form of physical activity that consists of moving the body into different positions. Yoga can help you develop flexibility, strength, and balance. The exercises can also help you improve your breathing.
- Yoga is also like tai chi in that it is best to start with an instructor rather than a DVD or instructional book. Once you master the poses, you can begin practicing yoga without an instructor.
- Locate a yoga studio near you to get started.
Engage in social dancing.Social dancing means dancing with a partner. There are many sorts of social dancing. For instance, you might like ballroom dancing, a sort of dancing with a partner that typically accompanies waltzes. Or you might enjoy a hoedown, a type of traditional folk dance native to the American South. Whatever sort of dance you enjoy, there’s probably a club in your area that empowers you to explore social dancing of one sort or another.
- To find opportunities to engage in social dancing in your area, try typing a word string like “social dancing [your city or locale]” into your preferred search engine.
Try a sport.Try to find a sport you enjoy and can participate in regularly. However, beware of high impact sports or sports that involve twisting the joints, like some of the motions in racquet sports like tennis. Some people will tolerate some sports or motions better than others so start slowly and try a different sport or exercise if you seem to have more pain during or after playing.
Find ways to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.Instead of (or in addition to) going out of your way to get physical activity with psoriatic arthritis, you could make your day-to-day routine more physically active. One way is to incorporate walking into your daily routine. For instance, walk to the store or to work instead of driving. You could also choose to ride your bike. And instead of taking an elevator, climb the stairs.
- Daily chores like mowing the grass or other yard work also provide valuable opportunities to engage in moderate physical activity.
Doing Muscle Strengthening Exercises
Lift weights.There are many ways lift weights. For instance, you could choose a set of free weights or dumbbells and perform curls. Curls are a common weight-lifting exercise that involves holding the weight in your hand, then bending your arm at the elbow to bring the weight up toward your shoulder. Alternately, you could use a bench press to push a heavy weighted bar up and down. Experiment with a variety of weight-lifting techniques at your local gym in order to discover one you enjoy.
Try pushups.To perform a pushup, lay on a soft mat or carpeted area with your belly down. Plant your hands on the ground just to the outsides of your shoulders. Push yourself up and straighten your arms. Straighten your legs and tense your feet so that your toes are pointed straight toward the ground. Keep your back straight and bend your arms at the elbows. When your elbows form a 90-degree angle, push off the ground by driving your arms straight down.
- When you first begin doing pushups, you will probably only be able to do a few. Try to gradually increase the number of pushups you can do by adding one per week until you are performing a quantity that you feel really challenges you.
Use resistance bands.Resistance bands are like large rubber bands that can help you develop strength and stay active with psoriatic arthritis. For instance, you could wrap a resistance band around your thighs. Lift one leg off the ground by moving it laterally away from you. Continue to move it to the side until you cannot move it further. Bring the leg slowly back to the center and repeat on the other leg.
Engage in intense gardening.Repetitive motions likes chopping, digging, or shoveling are great ways to work your muscles without the need for specialized gym equipment. Of course, you’ll need something to shovel, dig, or chop, so your opportunity to do so will be limited.
- Repeat each muscle strengthening activity eight to 12 times, then rest. If you’re up to it, perform another set of eight to 12 repetitions.
- Aim for 150 cumulative minutes of physical activity per week.
- Effective exercise will produce a mild pain, but should not produce pain on your arthritic joint.
Video: Physically Active with Psoriatic Arthritis
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