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Living with Psoriatic Arthritis (PsA)

The value of exercise


#1

Not sure if people outside the UK will be able to access this BBC radio programme, I should think so. It's called 'Inside Health' and my own assessment of it is that it is a very responsible source of information. Today's broadcast 'Health and Exercise' is one of the most persuasive discussions of this topic I've come across. One thing that jumped out at me is that exercise helps reduce inflammation. I think the way to hear it again is to click on the 'episodes' tab.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06vkg24

If you're working hard to keep moving and wonder whether it's worth it I reckon this will really buoy you up. And if you're struggling to find the motivation to get started it might just give you the extra conviction you need.


#2

Yes I love the idea of exercise but I find it so very tiring. I can manage to walk the dog - anything more wipes me out. Any suggestions?


#3

I guess tolerating a bit of wipe out (if there is such a thing as 'a bit' of that!) might be the only way to test if exercise actually starts to combat fatigue over time. Exercise is meant to help with fatigue though maybe not immediately afterwards. It's got to be one of those things where the effect builds up.

Is there a Tai Chi class available near you? One that concentrates on doing the moves correctly rather than on just learning the sequence of moves? For example, repeatedly transferring weight from one part of my foot to another makes my feet hurt more initially and then banishes most of the pain for the rest of the day. That alone makes me trust Tai Chi to help with inflammatory pain. And it is gentle exercise. Many classes are composed predominantly of older people. It's galling to see 90 year olds doing moves that are hard for me, but at least there's a built in acceptance of only doing what you can.

And swimming ... again, once in the water almost anything you do is going to be beneficial, possibly even floating! So you can do as much or as little as you wish and still get a result of some kind.

Did you listen to the podcast? Not sure if it's still available. I found it compelling.


#4

I haven't had time to listen yet but will try to do so. I am due to start Aqua physio next week - however the last time I over did the arm exercises and had to stop for a while! I'll look into tai chi - used to go to classes about twenty five years ago but that was full of rather fit your things!

Up until my hysterectomy four years ago I went to belly dancing classes - perhaps I can do some of that at home. The answer may be to put up with 'wipe out' for a while until the benefits kick in. Start with a wiggle at a time!


Sybil said:

I guess tolerating a bit of wipe out (if there is such a thing as 'a bit' of that!) might be the only way to test if exercise actually starts to combat fatigue over time. Exercise is meant to help with fatigue though maybe not immediately afterwards. It's got to be one of those things where the effect builds up.

Is there a Tai Chi class available near you? One that concentrates on doing the moves correctly rather than on just learning the sequence of moves? For example, repeatedly transferring weight from one part of my foot to another makes my feet hurt more initially and then banishes most of the pain for the rest of the day. That alone makes me trust Tai Chi to help with inflammatory pain. And it is gentle exercise. Many classes are composed predominantly of older people. It's galling to see 90 year olds doing moves that are hard for me, but at least there's a built in acceptance of only doing what you can.

And swimming ... again, once in the water almost anything you do is going to be beneficial, possibly even floating! So you can do as much or as little as you wish and still get a result of some kind.

Did you listen to the podcast? Not sure if it's still available. I found it compelling.


#5

LOL! Belly dancing classes .... that could catch on here! Let us know how things go.


#6

I might even send you a video if I get past the first couple of shimmies!

Sybil said:

LOL! Belly dancing classes .... that could catch on here! Let us know how things go.


#7

Looking forward to that! I think that would get the site buzzing and no mistake!


#8

I started exercising right after I was diagnosed two and a half years ago. I felt the first thing to do was get rid of the 25 extra pounds I had been lugging around to make things easier on my joints. I even hired a personal trainer. I am now on my second personal trainer, who trains my husband and I together. He gives me a teacher discount. He has been instrumental in getting me in shape and really researches my PsA issues and helps me do low impact strength building exercises that really help me. I am 48 years old and in the best shape I have ever been in. My rheumatologist has noticed the positive results I have had, too. Even when I was actively flaring, I went to work out. My trainer knew I couldn't do much, but encouraged me and I did a little. Now Humira is working for me and I can work out hard again. I go back to the Dr in a little over a week and I am hoping he takes me off of mtx. He hinted at it before. I am currently only taking Celebrex every other day and my husband tells me my ankles are smaller than he has seen them in years. I would love to be on only Humira! I truly believe exercise has made a huge difference for me, along with eating cleaner and losing weight.


#9

Oh, exercise is my best pain pill! I worked with a physiotherapist to design a water program which addresses my weak areas. It has made a huge difference. In 45 minutes in the water, I do stretching, foot, leg and hip exercises and then some gentle conditioning modified swimming moves which work arms and core. I always come out of the pool feeling better than I did when I went in. If I miss a pool session, I really notice.

One of the keys for me is not overdoing it, and spending some time just floating and moving gently after I've done the targetted exercise. My physio doesn't want me to do my pool routine more than three times a week. E.Rose, maybe starting very gradually with professional input would help you avoid that wiped out feeling. Being wiped out isn't good: it's discouraging for one, and for another being wiped out puts you at risk for a detour to Flareville..

Zinna, what an inspiration your post is! Sounds like your trainer is a good one who takes your disease limitations into account. That is SO important.


#10

Thanks Seenie! I know you have been fighting this disease a lot longer than I have. I truly feel that everyone can get some relief through exercise for their PsA. I am glad water therapy is providing you with some relief.

E.Rose, walking is not a good option for me. I prefer to ride my bike around the neighborhood. It is not as hard on my joints. Plus there is a freeing feeling when I ride--I can't help but smile when I start riding. I have a heavier cruising bike because I really don't want to ride fast. Sometimes as wish I could try new exercise classes like everyone else, but I am afraid of it being too high impact for my ankles and wrists.

BTW, I was able to read a transcript of the BBC program. It reinforced what I have found to be true.

I hope more people can find relief through exercise for their PsA!


#11

Zinnia, I agree with Seenie that what you say about the benefits of exercise for you is inspiring.

I think we hear so much about what is 'good for us' in the media etc. that it just becomes background noise and it's hard to take on board that with a disease like PsA, exercise really is a type of medicine in its own right.

I thought I had this exercise thing covered. But recently I've had to walk my dog late in the afternoon as well as the morning which is my usual shift. I'm usually stiff and achey come evening and I'd come to accept that as something I just had to put up with. But with just that extra bit of walking later in the day, after things initially getting worse, they got a whole lot better. No more excuses for leaving chores till morning - damn!


#12

I have had a half hour aqua programme worked out for me by a physiotherapist. But I shall try to start again with quarter
of an hour and work up.
Zinnia said:

Thanks Seenie! I know you have been fighting this disease a lot longer than I have. I truly feel that everyone can get some relief through exercise for their PsA. I am glad water therapy is providing you with some relief.

E.Rose, walking is not a good option for me. I prefer to ride my bike around the neighborhood. It is not as hard on my joints. Plus there is a freeing feeling when I ride--I can't help but smile when I start riding. I have a heavier cruising bike because I really don't want to ride fast. Sometimes as wish I could try new exercise classes like everyone else, but I am afraid of it being too high impact for my ankles and wrists.

BTW, I was able to read a transcript of the BBC program. It reinforced what I have found to be true.

I hope more people can find relief through exercise for their PsA!


#13

E.Rose, as my trainer likes to say, you are a winner for just showing up! I would go when in a flare and he would spend most of the time working on me using massage and stretching. I would use either very light weights or no weights at all and do simple things. But just the little bit I did made me stronger so I rebounded quicker when I did start to feel better. And I had developed the habit/schedule of going.

Nothing wrong with starting small and working up when you feel like it. I have read several things about the benefits of water therapy and a physical therapist recommended that for me, too. Please keep us updated about how it works for you.


#14

Thank you Zinnia. That is very encouraging, I like the idea of developing the habit of training. My husband and I are going to start taking our 3yr old granddaughter swimming. I'll get some floats like the ones they use at my aquaphysio pool and do a few simple exercises while we are there. I'm currently reading up about Polymyalgia Rheumatica and exercise. I tend to concentrate on the PsA and forget I have PMR as well.

Zinnia said:

E.Rose, as my trainer likes to say, you are a winner for just showing up! I would go when in a flare and he would spend most of the time working on me using massage and stretching. I would use either very light weights or no weights at all and do simple things. But just the little bit I did made me stronger so I rebounded quicker when I did start to feel better. And I had developed the habit/schedule of going.

Nothing wrong with starting small and working up when you feel like it. I have read several things about the benefits of water therapy and a physical therapist recommended that for me, too. Please keep us updated about how it works for you.


#15

Making exercise a habit is the only way to do it. I go Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. The only thing that is negotiable is the exact time I choose to go. I aim for 9:30, but the boss lets me delay that if it's a case of efficient work sequencing. (I'm my own boss, LOL) On the days I really don't want to go (yup, I have those) the deal is that getting into the pool is all I have to do. Anything else is bonus. Once I get into the pool, I usually end up figuring it would be a waste not to just do the routine. The mind games we play!

When I began, the physio had me doing 10 reps of each exercise. I decided to start with five, and work up to 10. The important thing for me at the beginning was getting into the habit. BTW, I'm now at 30 reps, with some added exercises. A very important part of my pool routine is stretching and relaxing by floating and doing slow, graceful movements. My time in the pool has become my "spoil me" time, and I love it. I also love no longer walking with a cane, and feeling fit and toned. (I said "feeling", not looking, unfortunately!)

Good luck with making this part of your life! It is worth every bit of effort that you put into it!


E.Rose said:

Thank you Zinnia. That is very encouraging, I like the idea of developing the habit of training. My husband and I are going to start taking our 3yr old granddaughter swimming. I'll get some floats like the ones they use at my aquaphysio pool and do a few simple exercises while we are there. I'm currently reading up about Polymyalgia Rheumatica and exercise. I tend to concentrate on the PsA and forget I have PMR as well.

Zinnia said:

E.Rose, as my trainer likes to say, you are a winner for just showing up! I would go when in a flare and he would spend most of the time working on me using massage and stretching. I would use either very light weights or no weights at all and do simple things. But just the little bit I did made me stronger so I rebounded quicker when I did start to feel better. And I had developed the habit/schedule of going.

Nothing wrong with starting small and working up when you feel like it. I have read several things about the benefits of water therapy and a physical therapist recommended that for me, too. Please keep us updated about how it works for you.


#16

Thanks Seenie, I am determined now to get into a habit of going at least twice a week. The main the thing is getting over the idea that you have to go there, undress, get wet - just for 10mins!! Then get dry and get home. What a lazy girl I am!!

Seenie said:

Making exercise a habit is the only way to do it. I go Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. The only thing that is negotiable is the exact time I choose to go. I aim for 9:30, but the boss lets me delay that if it's a case of efficient work sequencing. (I'm my own boss, LOL) On the days I really don't want to go (yup, I have those) the deal is that getting into the pool is all I have to do. Anything else is bonus. Once I get into the pool, I usually end up figuring it would be a waste not to just do the routine. The mind games we play!

When I began, the physio had me doing 10 reps of each exercise. I decided to start with five, and work up to 10. The important thing for me at the beginning was getting into the habit. BTW, I'm now at 30 reps, with some added exercises. A very important part of my pool routine is stretching and relaxing by floating and doing slow, graceful movements. My time in the pool has become my "spoil me" time, and I love it. I also love no longer walking with a cane, and feeling fit and toned. (I said "feeling", not looking, unfortunately!)

Good luck with making this part of your life! It is worth every bit of effort that you put into it!


E.Rose said:

Thank you Zinnia. That is very encouraging, I like the idea of developing the habit of training. My husband and I are going to start taking our 3yr old granddaughter swimming. I'll get some floats like the ones they use at my aquaphysio pool and do a few simple exercises while we are there. I'm currently reading up about Polymyalgia Rheumatica and exercise. I tend to concentrate on the PsA and forget I have PMR as well.

Zinnia said:

E.Rose, as my trainer likes to say, you are a winner for just showing up! I would go when in a flare and he would spend most of the time working on me using massage and stretching. I would use either very light weights or no weights at all and do simple things. But just the little bit I did made me stronger so I rebounded quicker when I did start to feel better. And I had developed the habit/schedule of going.

Nothing wrong with starting small and working up when you feel like it. I have read several things about the benefits of water therapy and a physical therapist recommended that for me, too. Please keep us updated about how it works for you.


#17

No, E.Rose, you are not lazy! OK, maybe you are but then I am too. I HATE the getting wet and the whole undressed/changed/WET/stripped/dressed ewwwwwww....what a hassle. I hear you. Now factor in a few months of weather that averages -20C, cold cars, snow and ice. It's a big barrier, I won't lie.

Because of my psoriasis, I can only do a full shower and shampoo three (max four) times a week. I used to go, get undressed, wet, dry, and dressed and then come home and shower and dress. AGAIN. One day the penny dropped for me: now I do my shampooing and showering after my hydrophysio. They have good showers. So I go there unshowered (looking awful, of course) and then I shower and dry my hair after and I feel and look much better. I come home ready to throw on decent clothes and away I go. All much more efficient -- I'm only getting undressed, wet, dry and dressed once, which I would have done at home anyway, swim or not. The routine works for me.

Making it a routine, as I said, is the key. But for me, making it a routine has involved an awful lot of mind games and strategy. OK, I know. Pathetic.


#18

Mind games can be a great help - I talk to myself loads! I count myself lucky that I don't suffer with psoriasis - I feel for you - my aunt had it really badly. I like the sound of your ' only wet once' strategy' will give it a go. Thanks x

Seenie said:

No, E.Rose, you are not lazy! OK, maybe you are but then I am too. I HATE the getting wet and the whole undressed/changed/WET/stripped/dressed ewwwwwww....what a hassle. I hear you. Now factor in a few months of weather that averages -20C, cold cars, snow and ice. It's a big barrier, I won't lie.

Because of my psoriasis, I can only do a full shower and shampoo three (max four) times a week. I used to go, get undressed, wet, dry, and dressed and then come home and shower and dress. AGAIN. One day the penny dropped for me: now I do my shampooing and showering after my hydrophysio. They have good showers. So I go there unshowered (looking awful, of course) and then I shower and dry my hair after and I feel and look much better. I come home ready to throw on decent clothes and away I go. All much more efficient -- I'm only getting undressed, wet, dry and dressed once, which I would have done at home anyway, swim or not. The routine works for me.

Making it a routine, as I said, is the key. But for me, making it a routine has involved an awful lot of mind games and strategy. OK, I know. Pathetic.


#19

Oh yes, mind games. Don't feel too sorry for me, though, ERose! My psoriasis is only a couple of small patches on my forehead and scalp, and dry, flaky skin all over. Again, blown off by my GP for years as "maybe just use some moisturizer". (Duuhhhh, never thought of that, doc!) Psoriasis is really not much of a problem for me, as long as I don't punish my skin too often. Interesting, though, when I am on a cruise (not as often as I'd like) I can be in the salt water pool as often as I want. With a quick rinse after, I'm just fine.


#20


Ohh lovely a cruise - if only ....... we are daft we don't like to leave our gorgeous black, standard poodle! Glad to hear your psoriasis is not too much of a problem - perhaps just a couple of cruises a year?!!
Seenie said:

Oh yes, mind games. Don't feel too sorry for me, though, ERose! My psoriasis is only a couple of small patches on my forehead and scalp, and dry, flaky skin all over. Again, blown off by my GP for years as "maybe just use some moisturizer". (Duuhhhh, never thought of that, doc!) Psoriasis is really not much of a problem for me, as long as I don't punish my skin too often. Interesting, though, when I am on a cruise (not as often as I'd like) I can be in the salt water pool as often as I want. With a quick rinse after, I'm just fine.