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Living well

Start slow, stick with it and keep it fun

There's no time like the summer to start, or restart, your exercise routine. If the pain and stiffness of psoriatic arthritis has kept you on the couch, here are a few tips from Portland, Ore., exercise physiologist Christa Causey to get you moving — and enjoying — the warmer weather ahead.

Start small

The key to starting to exercise after a period of inactivity — especially if you have psoriatic arthritis — is to start small. Causey recommends starting to walk in just 10-minute increments. Build up to a half-hour, and then an hour of walking a day. That half-hour or hour doesn't have to happen all at once, either. Breaking up your workouts throughout the day can help.

Don't push it

When you are out of shape, your muscles have to work harder to do the same amount of activity as an active person. Add in the inflammation of arthritis, and pushing past your comfort zone can result in soreness and joint pain. Signs you've pushed it too hard: You have a hard time cooling down after you've stopped exercising or your joints feel worse the next day. Go slow and stop before you become exhausted, Causey said.

Do something you enjoy.

Starting a new habit is hard. Starting a new habit you don't enjoy is even harder. Do you prefer smooth, low-impact exercise? Consider taking up yoga or Pilates. Like doing reps? Take up weight lifting. Enjoy getting outside? Start walking or hiking. Studies show fresh air and exercise aren't just good for your heart; the natural vitamin D from all that sunshine can help your psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, too.

Stay hydrated.

Arthritis generally improves during warmer weather. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids while exercising to prevent dehydration. Plan your workouts for early or late in the day so you miss the high temperatures in the middle of the day.

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