Throughout the last few years, I’ve found myself in various physical stages. In some stages, I couldn’t move half a millimeter without twinges of ridiculous pain hitting my body. In others, I was able to walk without crutches and push myself into balancing yoga poses. Throughout all of these stages, my doctors instructed me to exercise and move. They explained that movement would help give me more energy and aid me in feeling better overall.
I’ve learned a lot from my own journey. Here are my tips for staying healthy with exercise while living with psoriatic arthritis.
1. Honor yourself.
We all need to be advocates for our own health. We rely on doctors to run tests, give us medication and assist us with procedures, among other things. But we must also realize that we have responsibilities too.
Exercise is so much more than just burning calories or a means to tone up our bodies. It releases endorphins, gets synovial fluids moving, lubricates joints, helps get our blood pumping, balances nervous systems and promotes our detoxification pathways.
If we live a stagnant life with an inflammatory condition, inflammation moves in, creates havoc and eventually leads to joint damage, degeneration, fused bones and more. It seems counterintuitive, but exercise can help decrease inflammation. Committing to exercising, and remaining active, is a commitment to honoring your health.
2. Realize and respect your limits.
There is nothing wrong with having limits and realizing that we need to take it easy when it comes to exercising. But it’s important to know the difference between limits and excuses.
For 3.5 years, I used crutches to walk. I received a stem cell procedure to correct my problem, and eventually I started walking again. While using crutches, I became accustomed to restricting myself. After my procedure, I was able to drop the crutches, but I kept the excuses. My doctors told me that I didn’t have any restrictions, my inflammation and psoriatic arthritis were well controlled. So why was I still holding myself back?
I realized that there was a big difference between realizing my limits and making excuses. I committed to myself that, as long as my joints weren’t inflamed and my energy was pretty good, I was going to exercise.
There are some days when I wake up and I don’t feel well. On those days, I know I must respect my body and rest. While on others, I can spring out of bed to make a morning yoga class. It’s important to identify your limits and honor them, but you must also recognize when you’re making excuses and when you can push yourself.
3. Go at your own pace.
For over a year, I only did yoga at home. I knew I couldn’t keep up in a regular class, and to be perfectly honest, I felt embarrassed to go and just sit or lie there. So I practiced on my own and gained confidence in what I could and couldn’t do. Some days, I laid on my mat and hardly did anything and other days I had a vigorous flow.
Whatever your exercise of choice is, it’s important to go at your own speed. Jumping into a vigorous exercise, when you’re not used to it, is not what you should do. Doing so will just
create stress in your body. Who cares if you’re lying in savasana 10 minutes into yoga or walking at 0.4 speed on the treadmill? What matters is that you showed up and you’re trying.
For some great examples of exercises that are good for patients with psoriatic arthritis, check out this slideshow from HealthCentral.com.
4. Do the best you can.
We all have our ups and downs. If you have every intention of getting in the pool to do water therapy but realize that it just isn’t going to happen that day, be OK with that. Give yourself the ability to respect your limitations and do the best you can.
Some days, I get up and feel like I can easily walk a mile, while others I feel like I just climbed Mount Everest after simply walking up my steps. It can be upsetting to look at what you used to do or what you think you should be able to do, but that comparison doesn’t help. Any movement is good movement so long as you’re taking the proper precautions and honoring where you are. Wishing you a pain-free day!
Julie Cerrone is a certified holistic health coach based in Pittsburgh who is living with psoriatic disease. Follow her adventures on her blog. Photo by Natalie Cerrone.
The opinions expressed by National Psoriasis Foundation Blog contributors are their own and do not reflect the opinions or positions of the National Psoriasis Foundation. The information posted on the NPF Blog is not intended as, and is not, a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your physician before beginning a new exercise routine.
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