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Troubleshooting the gym with psoriatic arthritis

Staying active is key to keeping joints and tendons loose and limber. At the same time, hitting the gym with psoriatic arthritis requires special consideration.

The good news is no part of the gym is off-limits. Check below for ideas on what to do when you go to your fitness center. Always consult your health care provider before starting a new exercise routine.

Fitness classes. If your psoriatic arthritis affects joints in the hips, legs and feet, low- to moderate-impact exercise is a good choice, said Christa Causey, anexercise physiologist based in Portland, Ore.  Search for classes such as yoga, Pilates or strength-training classes. "Because people with psoriasis are more likely to develop other health issues such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease, regular exercise can be very beneficial for regulating blood sugar, lowering blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight," she said.

Cardio machines. Walking on a treadmill is something just about anyone can do, Causey said. The elliptical machine also is a good choice because it is easy to adjust and puts very little pressure on ankles or knees. Riding an upright or recumbent bike are good options, as well. You may want to avoid the stair climber, however; the repetitive up-and-down motion can aggravate knees and hips.

Resistance training. Training with weights, exercise bands or weight machines can be very beneficial for people with psoriatic arthritis, Causey said. However, it's important to perform the exercises properly to avoid injury. If you are new to resistance training or haven't started a weight training program since your diagnosis, see a physical therapist or specialized trainer first to build a resistance training program that fits your needs.

Things to keep in mind. "While we should all challenge ourselves in our workouts, it is important to listen to your body," Causey said. For example, if PsA is flaring in your hands, free weights may not be an option at that time. If your knees are bothering you, a yoga class or a slow ride on a stationary bike may be better choice than the treadmill. Again, working with your health care provider or a physical therapist can help you modify workouts around psoriatic arthritis. Lastly, gyms can be breeding grounds for germs. Be sure to carry your own towel and clean equipment before you use it.


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