Best Exercises for Psoriatic Arthritis

Julie Cerrone | Nov 20th 2015 Apr 10th 2017

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Psoriatic arthritis patients often experience painful, swollen joints that can make exercising difficult. But as we’ve read before, movement can actually help the condition. The key is low-impact exercises that are easy on the joints to get the body moving. To increase flexibility and range of motion, here are some great exercises to try.

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Yoga

Adding yoga into your day can be one of the most beneficial things you do. It balances the mind, body and soul, which can help ease the nervous system and massage inner organs. It also gets your body moving, strengthens muscles and adds flexibility. Practicing yoga can deepen your sense of self, and help you tune into your psoriatic arthritis. Remember that yoga is all about YOU – so listen to your body and modify when necessary.

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Chair yoga

Mostly geared toward seniors, chair yoga gives all the benefits of yoga if your mobility or ability to put all your weight on your lower extremities is an issue. A gentle practice in a chair, or on a stability ball, will get your body moving and allow you to still obtain the benefits yoga affords. There are many YouTube videos and online resources available to help you add this to your daily routine at home.

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Mat yoga

Even if you have problems with shoulders and wrists, poses can be modified to make mat yoga great for you! The key is finding a studio that’s well-versed in the practice of yoga, that  will give you the attention you need. If you’re a beginner, it’s suggested you find a teacher to work with you one-on-one. That way you’ll be able to identify modifications that are best for your body.

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Pilates

Pilates is geared toward stretching and strengthening your body, and gives the same mind-body connection as yoga! You’ll train your body to move correctly, improve muscle strength, range of motion and flexibility. And just like yoga, pilates can bring about self-awareness that can aid your condition. Studios offer pilates mat classes and reformer classes. Beginners should talk with a well-versed instructor to find the best class for them.

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Tai Chi

Tai Chi is another movement exercise that will help strengthen, reduce pain, improve mobility and enables finding a mental balance. Linking breath to movements can also have a profound effect on the nervous system. Tai Chi is known for promoting an overall sense of calm that makes it great for getting a physical and mental boost.

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Aquatic therapy

Water’s natural buoyancy removes the stress and pressure of your muscles and joints. This gives you the benefit of exercising without having to worry about aggravating that knee or ankle! There are many ways to exercise in a pool: Swimming laps works your whole body, walking in the water gives the benefits of walking while removing pressure on lower joints, and resistance training allows you to build muscles just as you would on land.

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Walking

As long as it’s not too painful to walk, this is a great exercise to get you moving, increase your heart rate and promote strength in the body. Any type of aerobic exercise gets our lymphatic system flowing and helps increase endurance for everyday activities. Even if it’s just a walk around your building, house or block, any movement is good movement. Some people also perform walking meditations to help build mental clarity!

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Elliptical

It’s important to note that pounding your feet into the pavement with walking or running can have an adverse effect on your joints. Elliptical exercise is a great alternative, as it offers the benefit of continuous motion and increased heart rate, without causing stress to your knees and feet. To build up strength and create heat in the body, start with a low setting and work your way up. Remember to listen to your body and do what feels right.

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Biking

Riding a bike offers the great cardio benefits of an aerobic workout, without the added stress of high-impact activities such as running. Not only does biking work to strengthen leg muscles and build endurance, but it helps you improve (or maintain) your range of motion. Both biking outside or using a stationary bike are great options- but be cautious when riding outdoors. Avoid unsteady terrain and hills until you know your tolerance and feel comfortable.

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Expert tip

Staying away from exercises that are hard on your joints is a good idea - especially when you’re having a flare. As with any exercise program, start slow and build your endurance. Start with 5-10 minutes of cardio and work your way up to what’s tolerable. No matter which exercise you choose, getting moving can have a healing impact in your mind, body and spirit - so what are you waiting for?

NEXT: 6 Ways to Manage Psoriatic Arthritis Pain
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