Physical activity is anything that gets your body moving. It can include activities, like cleaning, gardening or mowing the lawn. Exercise is more structured, and includes things like going to the gym, running or cycling.
Physical activity and exercise are extremely important for managing psoriatic arthritis (PsA). This article describes the benefit of both physical activity and exercise, and provides some helpful tips on getting started.
Research has found that regular physical activity and exercise is one of the most effective treatments for arthritis. It can help to:
Just as importantly, physical activity will improve your overall health. It can improve the fitness of your heart and lungs, increase bone strength, reduce body weight and reduce the risk of conditions such as diabetes. It also improves your sleep, energy levels and mental well-being.
Everyone with or without PsA should be doing regular, appropriate exercise. The important thing is to choose the activities that best suit your condition, health and lifestyle.
Before you start to exercise it is important to ask your rheumatologist or GP and your healthcare team to help you develop a suitable program and choose the best activities for you. Everyone’s fitness level and limitations will be different so start with activities that suit you. While some people with arthritis will find a five kilometre walk comfortable, others may find walking around the block difficult.
Generally you will need to do a mix of:
There isn’t just one particular exercise or activity that is recommended for all people with PsA. Choose an activity that you enjoy and that is convenient for you to do. Low-impact exercises, with less weight or force going through your joints, are usually most comfortable.
Examples of low-impact activities include:
All Australian adults should be aiming to do at least 30 minutes of activity on most days of the week. You can do 30 minutes continuously or combine several shorter sessions. If you have PsA and you have not exercised for a while, you may need to start with shorter sessions then build slowly. Talk to a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist about getting started to help you avoid an injury or over-doing it. Don’t forget that activities such as gardening, playing with pets or taking the stairs rather than the lift can also count as physical activity.
It can be hard to predict how your body will cope with a new activity. It is not unusual to experience short-lived muscle pain after exercising. This will usually improve with time as body becomes accustomed to exercise and movement. It is important to listen to your body. A general guide is the ‘two-hour pain rule’ – if you have extra or unusual pain for more than two hours after exercising, you should speak with your doctor or physiotherapist. Next time you exercise, start slow and build up your exercise tolerance. Talk to your doctor, physiotherapist or exercise physiologist if you continue to experience pain after exercising.
Many people with arthritis have some amount of pain all the time. This is not a reason to avoid exercise. You should stop exercising if it is causing you unusual or sudden pain or increases your pain beyond what if normal for you. Exercising through this type of pain may lead to injury or worsening of your arthritis symptoms.
Generally, it doesn’t matter when you exercise, as long as you do. If possible, try to exercise when:
However, avoid exercising late at night and this can affect your ability to fall asleep and getting a good night’s sleep is also important for your health and living well with PsA.
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL ARTHRITIS OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND SUPPORT SERVICES.