How to Continue Exercising With Psoriatic Arthritis

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: August 2022

Regular exercise is important to maintain joint flexibility and range of motion in people living with psoriatic arthritis (PsA). PsA inflames the joints, causing pain and stiffness. This makes movement a challenge.1,2

But regular physical activity helps keep the joints loose and limber. Regular activity is also beneficial for overall health and well-being. There are several ways to make exercise more comfortable and possible with your PsA symptoms.1,2

Use a walking aid

Walking canes can provide added stability and relieve pressure on sore knees, hips, ankles, and feet. A proper fit is important in selecting a cane, as the height needs to support good posture. Use your cane on the stronger side of your body, moving in time with your weaker side. This allows the cane to share the load.3

Try shoe inserts

Shoe inserts, or orthotics, can help relieve foot pain and make it easier to stand and walk. Orthotics can correct structural issues and redistribute weight. They also relieve pressure on sensitive areas of the feet – a common problem for people with PsA.4

Orthotics can be custom-made or bought off the shelf. A a doctor that specializes in feet (podiatrist) can help determine the best approach for you.4

Choose low-impact exercises

Low-impact exercises put minimal weight and cause little wear and tear on your joints. They are great for anyone living with arthritis.1,2,5

There are a variety of low-impact exercises that people living with PsA can choose from. Walking is one of the easiest exercises to incorporate. It is free and can be done anywhere, weather permitting.1,2,5

Other low-impact exercises that are good for people with arthritis include:1,2,5

  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Yoga
  • Tai chi

Mix up your exercises

Engaging in a variety of aerobic exercises, strength training, and stretching keeps the body healthy and strong. Mix up your activities so that you are not overworking one particular muscle group. This also can help keep boredom at bay.1,2,5

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercises have many benefits. They can improve metabolism, heart health, energy, stamina, and mood. Try mixing and matching low-impact aerobic activities throughout the week. Here are some to try:2

  • Walking
  • Biking
  • Using the elliptical machine
  • Swimming

Strength training

Strength training exercises help build muscles and protect your joints. A couple of times a week, try some light weight training (for example, lifting 5-pound dumbbells) to get you started.2


Stretching is important for muscle flexibility and maintaining or improving the range of motion in joints. Yoga and tai chi are 2 practices that promote stretching and relaxation. Add some simple stretches throughout your day and after exercising.1,2

Keep moving

PsA symptoms can come and go. Even on days when the pain and swelling are at their worst, try to incorporate some gentle movement.1,2,5

Talk with your doctor about exercises you can safely do during a flare. You may not want to exercise when your symptoms are flaring, but a slow walk or some gentle stretching may actually help lessen the pain.2

Listen to your body

It is normal to have some mild muscle soreness after a workout. This should improve with movement. But if you have any sharp pain during or immediately after exercise, it could mean an injury.2

Also, keep in mind that a sudden boost in movement may cause a PsA flare. On days when the pain is worse, choose moderate and gentle movement like yoga or swimming.5

If you have moderate to severe pain in a specific joint or area of the body, choose an exercise that is gentle and focuses on a different area of the body. Listen to your body, and do not overdo it.5

Talk with your doctor and a physical therapist about your exercise goals. Together, you can create a plan that works best for you and keeps you healthy and happy.5

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