Fighting Psoriasis With Exercise

By Carissa Wright

Living with psoriasis can be difficult and even discouraging at times. Commonly, people who suffer from this affliction may feel trapped in their bodies and find it difficult to rev up the nerve to do a lot of things they once enjoyed.

For some, fitness takes the first hit. Whether because of privacy reasons or physical limitation, some psoriasis sufferers find it hard to bring themselves to exercise as a result of this disease.

This is where Jackie Warner comes in. A fitness pioneer and star of Bravo’s show “Thintervention with Jackie Warner”, Jackie knows all about keeping fit. After watching her grandmother struggle with psoriasis for many years, Jackie has now invested a generous portion of her time to helping those who suffer with psoriasis find a work out regimen that works for them. She gave us some of her inside tips, and give us the low-down on fitting fitness with psoriasis.

What is Psoriasis?

Dr. Paul Yamauchi, the Medical Director at the Skin Care Center of Santa Monica, defines psoriasis as an “autoimmune disorder where there is over-activity of one’s immune system…that ultimately results in inflammation in the skin causing the skin cells to grow too quickly, leading to the formation of plaques.”

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation approximately 7.5 million Americans are affected with this disease. Common symptoms include red, scaly, thick skin that leads to burning, cracking, itching and other pain. The exact cause is currently unknown.

Why It’s Important to Exercise

Jackie recommends that psoriasis sufferers get in some physical activity everyday. Not only does this physical movement have an anti-inflammatory affect on the body, but it also can help to combat some of the larger physical ailments that sometimes coincide with the disease.

“People with psoriasis should absolutely pay close attention to the co-morbid diseases associated with the disease,” she explains.

Sufferers are at a higher risk to develop issues such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Therefore, it is imperative that they follow a regular exercise regimen to reduce these risks, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Jackie explains that often people who have psoriasis feel self-conscious—making it difficult for them to feel comfortable working out in public places such as gyms or parks. The juxtaposition of living with the disease and people who may not quite understand it can make for a few uncomfortable encounters, which many suffers rather bypass.

In addition, Jackie notes that some sufferers may be experiencing physical limitations. She explains that someone with lesions on her feet may find that activities such as walking or squatting become a challenge because of the discomfort caused by shoes.

Solution:

Jackie suggests purchasing some kind of exercise equipment. It can be basic—something like a resistance band or a yoga mat, so that you may exercise in the comfort of your own home, and engage in activity that is both soothing and good for your body.

Every year, there are also several Walks to Cure Psoriasis sponsored by the National Psoriasis Foundation. These are also a great way to get exercise, but also to meet other people who are affected in the same way you may be, Jackie says.

Eating Well & De-Stressing

It’s also important to maintain a healthy diet. Because psoriasis sufferers are at a higher risk for additional ailments, finding the foods that support your system is very important.

Dr. Yamauchi also notes that it’s important to keep your stress under control.

“Stress may trigger psoriasis to flare for the first time, or even worsen symptoms for those who already have psoriasis,” he explains.

Solution:

Although research that links specific foods to the decrease in symptoms or onset of psoriasis does not exist, Jackie recommends a few foods that can help reduce inflammation.

“Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts and salmon, are good options to consider—so try to incorporate them into your diet on a daily basis,” she explains.

Dr. Yamauchi also suggests to his psoriasis patients that they weave stress relief and relaxation practices into their daily lives. His two suggestions: meditation and yoga.