Managing Psoriatic Arthritis Flares with an Active Lifestyle

I found that living in balance and listening to my body are especially important when trying to live an active lifestyle with psoriatic arthritis.

by Lori-Ann Holbrook Patient Expert

I love living in Jersey City, New Jersey and working in Manhattan, even with my psoriatic arthritis. Because I am on immunosuppression therapy, I have a tendency to get sick often. For that reason, I do not have the luxury of taking a sick day when my psoriatic arthritis flares up.

I have learned it is all about balance and listening to my body. I can handle standing, but not for too long. I can handle sitting, but not for too long. I can handle quite a bit of walking, but a mile and a half seems to be my limit. We do not own a car, so public transportation and my feet take me everywhere I need to go.

Here are the four typical options I have for my weekday commute:

  1. On a good day, I walk almost a mile to the nearest ferry, stand in line for 15 minutes, cruise seven minutes to work and walk a quarter mile to my office. Cost: $7.00, one-way.

  2. On a less than good day, I wait 10 minutes, take the train one stop, walk a quarter mile to the ferry, stand in line for 15 minutes, cruise seven minutes to work and walk a quarter mile to my office. Cost: $9.75, one-way.

  3. On a rainy day, hot day, freezing day or fatigue day, I wait 10 minutes, take the train in the opposite direction, wait 10 minutes, change trains to the next terminal, walk to the ferry, stand in line for 15 minutes, cruise 15 minutes to work and walk a quarter mile to my office. Cost: also $9.75, one-way.

  4. On a bad flare day or when I want to feel like a rock star, I summon car service, sit in the back seat and read for a half hour and am dropped off in front of my office building. Cost: around $34.00, one-way.

I include the cost because this disease is expensive and every time I need to hire Uber it has an impact on our family budget.

I love a weekend afternoon or evening out, but have to be mindful in advance about wearing myself out. I first reached remission at age 44. Now that I am three years older, I notice I can do less. There are two ways I manage getting around in Manhattan:

  1. In the City, the subway or metro-rail system is the fastest and least expensive way to go. We try to use this as much as possible. We may also choose to go out of our way to an accessible station, so I can avoid stairs.

  2. Sometimes, if my husband and I have been out for a while, I cannot handle another staircase and know I will need a seat to get home. In that case, the bus provides a better option. It is much slower, but I only have to climb two steps and can sit as long as I need to.

To manage attractions that require a lot of standing, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I have decided to see only one exhibit per visit. I buy myself a membership every year and visit the exhibits that really interest me, leave when I am tired and look forward to going again another day.

My best tip for traveling back to Jersey City:

If I am exhausted, we go out of our way to the 33rd Street PATH Terminal at Herald Square, so I can get a seat (this is the end of the line and the train completely empties before we embark). If we do not reach the train in time and it is full, we opt to sit on the bench and wait for the next one (no more than 10 minutes).

Of course, car service is always an option. I have taken Uber to the PATH station and ridden the train home to better manage this cost.

Overall, it's important to do some research about the best transportation options and stations for you and your commute. Consider making use of rail systems or bus routes to give yourself some time to sit and rest. Sometimes it's best to sacrifice going out of your way to get to astation that has better chances of getting a seat. For bad days, having a car service can help ease the pain of traveling, although facorting in cost is important to note. But most importantly, the key to better commuting with psoriatic arthritis is to listen to your body. Stop and rest when you need to, and try to mimize the amount of events, stops or movement in your day to keep from tiring yourself out.

I hope your find these tips helpful and that they have encouraged you to visit a big city someday, armed with some new tools to help you manage. Until next time.

Lori-Ann Holbrook
Meet Our Writer
Lori-Ann Holbrook

Lori-Ann wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Psoriatic Arthritis.