How to Keep Comfortable While Exercising

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: October 2016. | Last updated: May 2021

A regular exercise regimen is important to maintaining joint flexibility and range of motion in people living with psoriatic arthritis. While psoriatic arthritis inflames the joints and causes pain and stiffness, which may make movement challenging, regular physical activity keeps the joints flexible. Regular activity is also beneficial for overall health and well-being.1

There are several ways to make exercise more comfortable and adaptable to any physical limitations psoriatic arthritis may create.

Choose low impact exercises

There are a variety of low impact exercises that people living with psoriatic arthritis can choose from to accommodate any physical limitations. Walking is one of the easiest exercises to incorporate, and it is free and can be done anywhere, weather permitting. Other exercises that are good for people with arthritis are biking, including using a stationary bike, or swimming. Many facilities with pools also offer water aerobics classes. Yoga and Tai Chi are also gentle exercises that are beneficial for people with arthritis.1

Use a walking aid

Walking canes can provide added stability and relieve pressure on sore knees, hips, ankles, and feet. They come in a variety of styles: single point, quad or three-point canes. The proper fit is important in selecting a walking aid, as the height needs to support a proper posture. Canes are properly used on the strong side of the body, moving in time with the weaker side, so the cane shares the load.1

Try shoe inserts

Shoe inserts or orthotics can help relieve foot pain and make it easier to stand or walk. Orthotics can correct structural issues, redistribute weight, and relieve pressure on sensitive areas of the feet. Orthotics can be custom-made or bought off-the-shelf. A podiatrist, a doctor that specializes in feet, can help determine the best approach for each patient.1

Incorporate stretches

Stretching is important for muscle flexibility and maintaining or improving the range of motion in joints. Yoga and Tai Chi are two exercise forms that incorporate stretching, although simple stretches can also be included throughout the day. Stretching is also recommended following exercise.1

Mix it up

Using a variety of aerobic exercises, strength training, and stretching is beneficial for the body and to keep boredom at bay. Aerobic exercises, like walking, biking, or dancing, provide a number of benefits, including improved metabolism, better mood, more energy, increased stamina, and decreased inflammation. Strength training, such as weight bearing exercises and light weight lifting, makes joints more stable, and weight bearing exercises increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis. Stretching is important for muscle flexibility and maintaining or improving the range of motion in joints.1

Keep moving

Psoriatic arthritis symptoms can flare and remit. Even on days when the pain and swelling is worsened, people living with psoriatic arthritis should move and stretch as much as they can every day to lessen stiffening and maintain flexibility.1

Listen to your body

Exercise can cause mild muscle soreness after a workout, however, sharp pain during or immediately after exercise may indicate an injury. The mild muscle soreness generally improves with movement. With moderate to severe pain in a specific joint, exercise should focus on a different area of the body for a day or two. Moderate to severe pain during exercise can signal injury, and exercises should be stopped immediately.1

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