Psoriatic Arthritis can cause swelling, pain and stiffness in and around the joints. A regular exercise program is recommended to strengthen and stretch the muscles, and to keep your body moving through its full range of motion each day, as well as regular aerobic exercise.
“Regular physical activity benefits everyone, whether or not you have psoriatic arthritis. It helps to reduce your pain, strengthen your muscles, maintain joint function and improve your sleep and overall health.” (Arthritis Australia).
Exercises to strengthen and stretch your muscles will help to improve your posture and maintain flexibility, and are best done each day, or at least 5 times a week. Moderate aerobic exercise for 30 minutes each day is also recommended for you general fitness, this can be broken up throughout the day, for example, 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch time, and 10 minutes in the afternoon.
A physiotherapist will be able to provide you with strength and flexibility exercises which you can perform at home or in a gym, as well as a program for aerobic fitness which may include activities such as walking, swimming, low impact aerobics, or cycling.
The symptoms of psoriatic arthritis will vary for each person, so the level and type of exercise that is recommended will vary too. Some will be aiming to improve their fitness, while others will be focusing on staying mobile. A physiotherapist will be able to design an individualised exercise program for you.
“If you experience early morning stiffness, gentle stretching exercises under a warm shower will help.” (Arthritis Australia)
PAPPA (“A Positive Approach to Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis”) emphasises the importance of doing some exercise each day, and recommends modifying your exercise program on days when joints are swollen and painful, for example swimming rather than walking if knees and ankles are affected.
PAPPA suggests using the following strategies to keep motivated:
• “Be realistic – set yourself achievable goals
• Keep a diary or schedule – record what exercises you have done and plan how you are going to progress them
• Join a class or exercise with someone else – recruit family or friends to help you stay on track
• Reward yourself from time to time – treat yourself if you reach a goal or complete a week without missing a day
• Make exercise fun where you can – try exercising to music or outside
• Try to work exercise into your daily routine – e.g. walk the kids to school; even doing the dusting can exercise the shoulders.” (PAPPA, “Physiotherapy & Exercise: Psoriatic Arthritis”)
Arthritis & Osteoporosis WA have physiotherapist led Arthritis Exercise classes which are suitable for most people with Psoriatic Arthritis. Please see the Exercise Calendar for details, and remember to always consult your doctor or physiotherapist before commencing a new exercise program.