How to Survive the Gym When You Have Psoriasis

Last updated: September 2022

Psoriasis is a condition which is linked to stress. For those of us with psoriasis, we are more than aware that stress worsening psoriasis is a stressful event!

If you talk to any medical professional, they will present you with an arsenal of anti-stress techniques which usually includes exercise. Yikes.

The dreaded gym...

Unfortunately for a lot of people with psoriasis, gym kit is not particularly desired. The gym is the kind of place where people say the dreaded words *swimming* and walk around in crop tops and shorts. I have frequently avoided the gym for the very reason that exercise makes me hot, and unless I want to pass out, I have to remove my shield of sleeves to maintain a body temperature that sustains life.

Have you ever been to the gym? I assume you have, even if you subsequently decided to have a cup of tea and then never visit again. It is full of people who are working towards stronger bodies (great) wearing short sleeves and shorts (not great). The gym usually insists you have a gym member teach you how to use the gym equipment which tends to be mildly useless. I am afraid people are looking at me because I look lost, because I don't know what I am doing and because my spots are glowing red with even the mildest form of exercise. I always start with solitaire on the treadmill, and the redness begins then.

How I learned to enjoy the gym

So how did I end up falling in love with training at the gym? Here are my top lessons learned:

  1. Don't let the mirrors intimidate you. Remember the gym is full of people trying to improve their bodies. The gym is full of mirrors to help people check their form and to help monitor progression. If you stop and look, everyone is looking at themselves.
  2. Take headphones. No one will talk to you if you are wearing headphones, so if you are worried someone will spark up a conversation about your skin- put them on before you leave the changing rooms.
  3. Commit to long sleeves or short sleeves. Gyms tend to have dark floors and mats. If you start working out and then take off long sleeves, you are at risk of a ‘snowstorm.’ This is ok if you can quickly sweep off to another section of the gym but if you're in a yoga class, your stuck in there for the next 40 minutes!
  4. Utilize a vest. Wear a vest under your workout clothes if you have a scaly torso. If you flake when you move having a vest tucked into your shorts helps keep the scales off the floor while enabling you to have a loose more stylish top on the outside.
  5. Moisturize. There will be more friction when you are moving in the gym. Moisturizing will help reduce the chance of your skin cracking and reduce friction when you are moving. Do not worry if you do bleed though; there are sterile wipes for the equipment, it just looks like you are conscientious when people see you wiping down the mat.
  6. If you are tired, stretch. Stretching is so good for your muscles and your stress levels. We have a chronic disease, and it is important to remember to listen to our bodies and be kind to ourselves.
  7. Get a gym buddy or a personal trainer. Having someone with you while you gain confidence in the gym is what changed things for me. I didn't have any friends who would come to the gym, so I hired a trainer for three months. It transformed my attitude to training, and instead of feeling intimidated, I felt liberated. Training is now one of my preferred methods for managing stress.

If you are looking for further inspiration, you can check out Red Spot Eliminator who documents his workouts as part of his skin healing regimen on Instagram. If his progress so far looks intimidating, go back to his earlier posts and see how far he has come.

I hope this inspires you to try the gym again, even if it is just for a cup of tea.

Check out the interactive psoriasis journey

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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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