Exercise and psoriasis: Links and more – Medical News Today

Physical activity can help improve psoriasis flares and increase periods of remission. Activity may further reduce the risk of developing other illnesses, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Physical activity offers many health benefits, especially for people with psoriasis. It can help them maintain a moderate weight and reduce the risk of developing certain diseases, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
However, the sweat, heat, and stress of working out may also trigger or aggravate psoriasis symptoms. Pain and fatigue are also common issues that make it challenging for people with psoriasis to exercise.
This article discusses how exercise can help with psoriasis and provides tips for effective and safe activities for people with psoriasis.
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Psoriasis affects approximately 3.2% of the United States population and about 2–3% of the world’s population.
Further research suggests that psoriasis occurs in 3.6% of white people, 1.9% of African American people, and 1.6% of Hispanic people.
This condition occurs equally among males and females.
It is an autoimmune skin condition that causes crusty, flaky patches called plaques to occur on the skin’s surface. These plaques may appear red on light skin and purple or violet on darker skin.
Psoriasis plaques can appear anywhere but commonly occur as small patches on:
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of psoriasis here.
A person may alternate between periods of active disease, called a flare, and periods of inactivity or remission. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of psoriasis a person has.
A person with psoriasis is also at an increased risk of arthritis, depression, diabetes, and heart disease.
Specific triggers can cause symptoms to appear or worsen. These vary from person to person but include:
Learn more about psoriasis in our dedicated hub.
The National Psoriasis Foundation recommends that people with psoriasis do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise plus strength training at least five times a week.
A 2018 study found that intense physical activity might help decrease the prevalence of psoriasis. It also indicated that exercise may also benefit a person’s mental health linked to the diagnosis of psoriasis and the impact on quality of life.
Another 2018 study found that diet and exercise effectively combat oxidative stressors and improve disease severity in people with psoriasis.
Obesity is a common cardiovascular risk factor in psoriatic disease. People with psoriasis may have low physical activity levels, which puts them at risk of having a stroke.
Research suggests exercise can help reduce weight and improve the severity of psoriasis in people with overweight.
A 2020 study showed that people with psoriasis tend to avoid exercise because they are concerned about:
A person should speak with their doctor or dermatologist to explore exercise options suitable for their skin needs.
Below are some tips to ensure a safe and effective workout.
As a general rule, avoid activities that cause flares or pain. Low impact, low intensity workouts, such as a stroll or a leisurely bike ride, might be more suitable.
Excessive sweating can trigger symptoms. People should avoid hot yoga and other exercises that cause excessive sweating. Inverse psoriasis is a form of psoriasis that occurs in areas where the skin folds, and sweat is a trigger that aggravates symptoms.
Some people experience stress as a result of having psoriasis, and, in turn, stress often aggravates this condition.
Doing too much exercise or performing cardio or higher intensity workouts may trigger the body’s stress response.
Higher-intensity workouts do not suit everyone, as excessive exercise can aggravate symptoms. However, people who manage their symptoms well may be able to tolerate more rigorous exercises, such as running and high intensity interval training (HIIT).
People with psoriatic arthritis, a potential complication of psoriasis, should avoid high impact exercises that put too much stress on weakened joints. Instead, they can opt for low impact activities, such as swimming and cycling.
Learn about the exercises for psoriatic arthritis here.
Tight clothing can worsen skin sensitivity, irritate the skin, and aggravate psoriasis patches during workouts.
Loose, breathable clothing and moisture-wicking fabrics help pull moisture away and allow it to evaporate fast.
Learn more about the best clothing for workouts here.
Warming up before exercise is crucial to prepare the muscles and reduce stiffness to avoid injuries. In the same way, finish activities with a proper cool-down, like some light stretching or a slow-paced walk.
Read more about the benefits of stretching.
Aim for consistency and frequency rather than duration. Physical activity may include taking the stairs instead of the elevator and walking to run errands.
If a person feels stiff or tense, they may switch their workouts and focus on a range of motion and flexibility exercises.
Learn more about stretching and flexibility here.
Working out may cause a person to sweat and lose skin moisture. A person should replenish lost fluids with proper hydration, which can help the skin stay moisturized and prevent flares in people with psoriasis.
Learn about the benefits of staying hydrated here.
If a person does not feel confident in a gym or a flare hinders their performance, they can exercise at home. There are plenty of workout videos online, including strength training, yoga, and core workouts.
Learn about the best home workouts here.
A person considering exercising for the first time could discuss options with a doctor or healthcare professional. They may be able to offer advice about what to avoid or recommend an assessment with a physical therapist.

Learn more about physical therapy here.
Aside from exercise, other alternative treatments can help manage psoriasis.
Learn more about home remedies for psoriasis here.
Psoriasis is a lifelong condition. While it has no cure, treatments and lifestyle changes, such as exercise and diet, can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life.
Psoriasis puts people at risk of other diseases that can affect their health and quality of life, including stroke, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases.
Many factors can hinder a person with psoriasis from exercising. However, not doing so can cause them to miss out on the health benefits that working out can offer.
Exercising improves a person’s physical and mental health and can also reduce flares and the risk of developing other health conditions associated with psoriasis.
At the same time, a person should be mindful about how they exercise, know what to avoid, and what to do when an exercise leads to a flare.
Last medically reviewed on April 18, 2022
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