By Joe Temple
As someone who has suffered from plaque psoriasis for over twenty years, I’ve certainly tried my fair share of ointments, sprays, creams, lotions and phototherapy—all with varying degrees of success and failure. Sadly, it seemed that whatever positive results I achieved in the short-term, the disease always came creeping back with a vengeance. Then one day while attending University, I finally decided to get off from my computer and hit the gym. Like many people who lift weights, the entire lifestyle can be quite addictive as you constantly strive to achieve your personal best. To my surprise, as a couple months of training went by, I began to notice something else besides shredded six pack abs and bulging biceps.
My psoriasis was disappearing—naturally!
By going to the gym almost every day (in combination with a healthy diet that I’ll discuss in future blog entries), I was nearly 90% clear. And after doing some research on the subject, I learned that this was no coincidence. Numerous medical studies have shown a direct link between physical activity and a reduction in the symptoms associated with psoriasis. After all, given that obesity is one of the biggest triggers, it makes perfect sense that weight loss vis-à-vis exercise would be an ideal antidote. So whenever I meet someone who is struggling with their psoriasis, one of my first questions is “Do you work out?”
Unfortunately, for many of us, the decision of whether to go to the gym or not is not as simple as it is for the population-at-large. In an environment where shorts and sleeveless shirts are commonplace, the fear scenario of being stared at by everyone is a surefire way to keep many psoriasis sufferers as far away from exercise as possible. I was lucky in the fact that my disease never affected my forearms so I was able to get by in a t-shirt and athletic pants. But for others, the gym—and thus any physical activity becomes strictly off limits.
However, by denying yourself the opportunity to work out, you’re also denying one of the best ways to fight back against the disease. Therefore, if your physical condition prevents you from buying a gym membership, consider purchasing some at-home exercise equipment. Whether it’s a treadmill, elliptical machine or a spin bike, sticking to a program in the comfort and privacy of your own home where no one can see your psoriasis is an excellent first step. In fact, there are many great deals to be had on used equipment by visiting sites like Kijiji or Craig’s List.
The next move is to carefully research a program that allows you to burn all those calories and fat. A helpful tip is to monitor your condition by taking selfies of your body once a week to see if there’s an improvement in your psoriasis. But beware, as Arnold Schwarzenegger once said, “Working out without eating properly is like plowing a field without planting any seeds – Nothing will grow out of it.” Along with rigorous physical activity is the need for a healthy and well-balanced diet, which also goes a long way in combating this auto-immune disorder.
Now if you’re ready to hit the gym, but afraid that an article of clothing might shift in the wrong direction and expose one of your red flaky patches for everyone to see, have no fear. Along with athletic or yoga pants to cover up any spots on your lower body, consider investing in compression gear, which is skin-tight and far less likely to move around as you exercise, eliminating any worries you might have about being exposed. With the enormous popularity of certain brands these days, you won’t stand out like a sore thumb with these clothes on. Another tip is to arrive at the gym with them already on to avoid using the change room.
So if you’re ready to take a solid first step in ending your psoriasis naturally, get off the couch and make it happen!