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Embracing Physical Activity with Psoriasis

Living with psoriasis can be a challenging journey, both physically and emotionally. As someone personally living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, I have found solace and empowerment through engaging in regular exercise and physical activity. When I was first diagnosed with psoriasis, I felt overwhelmed by the visible symptoms on my skin.

The constant itchiness, red patches, and flakiness made me self-conscious, but I was on my high school lacrosse and kickline teams and didn’t want to let psoriasis win by quitting what I loved. I also found that the exercise and being with my team was crucial to my mental health. It was tough at first to wear uniforms that showed my flares, but with direct conversations and understanding teammates and coaches it became easier. Now in my 40’s, I still believe it’s critical for my mental health and physical health to maintain an exercise routine.

Tailoring my exercise routines

Psoriasis affects individuals differently, making it crucial to tailor exercise routines to personal comfort levels. I really enjoy group fitness classes for motivation and prefer the kind that are intense and sweaty. In addition to getting my body some exercise, it helps me to reduce stress which is a significant trigger for my flares.

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If you’re new to exercise, it’s best to start slow with walking or stretching, in short increments to start. Psoriasis and PsA flares can also create physical limitations so it’s important to be flexible and adapt exercise when needed. Instead of holding weights, use body weight or try chair yoga to get some movement. Don’t be afraid to try different kinds of exercise until you find the kind that keeps you engaged and lets you have some fun.

Managing sweat and post-exercise showers

One of the challenges that people with psoriasis often face during exercise is the issue of sweat and its potential impact on skin flare-ups. While sweat itself doesn't cause psoriasis, the irritation and friction it may create can exacerbate existing symptoms.

As soon as you can post-workout, hop into a cool or lukewarm shower to wash the sweat off with fragrance-free, hypoallergenic soaps and shampoos to avoid further skin irritation. Additionally, I make it a point to moisturize immediately after showering to lock in hydration and soothe my skin, creating a post-workout routine that became an integral part of my overall psoriasis management.

Choosing psoriasis-friendly attire and hairstyles

Selecting the right clothing and hairstyles for exercise may seem easy, but it’s important to ensure comfort during exercise. Loose-fitting, breathable fabrics like cotton or moisture-wicking materials prove to be the most skin-friendly options. These fabrics minimize friction, reduce irritation, and allow the skin to breathe, essential factors in preventing and easing flare-ups.

When it comes to hairstyles, opting for loose styles that don't pull or tug on the scalp is crucial for those dealing with psoriasis on the scalp or hairline. Avoiding tight ponytails or braids and using soft, fabric-covered hair ties helped mitigate potential discomfort during workouts. By prioritizing comfort in clothing and hairstyles, you can make yourself as comfortable as possible when staying active.

Harnessing the healing power of nature

Not everyone is comfortable at or has access to the gym. Getting outdoors to exercise can become a sanctuary. Nature walks, hiking, or simply spending time in green spaces can offer not only a break from the daily grind but can also be a healing environment for our skin. Vitamin D from sunlight exposure has proved to be beneficial, but always ensure you’re wearing sun protection because a burn can trigger or irritate a flare.

Living with psoriasis is a personal experience, but incorporating exercise into your routine can be a transformative step towards holistic well-being. From personal encounters with individuals at different physical levels, I have learned that the journey to embracing physical activity is unique for each person. By tailoring exercise routines, being prepared, and harnessing the healing power of nature, individuals with psoriasis can embark on a path of self-discovery and empowerment, reclaiming control over their bodies and embracing a more active, fulfilling life.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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