If You Smoke, Quit
Studies show the best thing you can do for yourself is to stop smoking. It will lower your disease activity and make your medications work better. It will also improve your heart and lung health. Not sure how to get started? Talk your primary care doctor about programs and products that can help. Your family and friends care about your well-being too, so they can encourage you along the way.
Losing weight can be difficult. But fat cells produce chemicals that fuel inflammation. This means your meds won’t work as well and you’ll be less likely to achieve minimal disease activity. Even a little weight loss can make a difference, but the biggest losers see the biggest gains. Start with a small goal, like 10 pounds. And remember, the best way to lose weight is to combine healthy eating with regular exercise.
Get and Keep Moving
It’s hard to think of an aspect of PsA that physical activity doesn’t help. It can reduce inflammation, keep your joints mobile and help with weight loss. Exercise also strengthens your bones, lungs and heart; can ward off diabetes; and improves mood and sleep.
Exercise will not harm your joints or cause more pain. You don’t have to do only “gentle” exercises like tai chi or walking. In fact, few exercises are off-limits for people with arthritis. Aim for 30 minutes of cardio most days and weight training at least twice a week. If you haven’t exercised for a long time, you may want to get tips from a physical therapist or certified fitness instructor.
We all have stress from time to time, whether you have a chronic disease or not. But when you have PsA, it can affect your disease. Stress triggers psoriasis flares and ongoing stress can affect the immune system. Find healthy ways to manage stress that work for you and your life. You don’t need to meditate, do yoga, or burn candles to relax, although those are all good things. You can take a walk and enjoy nature, spend time with your dog, surf or do simple deep breathing.
An anti-inflammatory or Mediterranean-style diet can improve PsA symptoms. The idea is to eat mainly fruits, vegetables, nuts, fatty fish (like salmon, sardines, mackerel or cod) and extra-virgin olive oil. Limit red meat, sugar, and processed foods. If making big changes to your diet feels overwhelming, start with one change at a time. Eat a piece of salmon instead of a burger once a week. Then add another change the next week.
Protect Your Skin
Creams, ointments or lotions can ease pain and itching. Take short, warm (not hot) baths using soothing salts or oils. Apply moisturizers after showers, baths and swimming. Protect against sunburn by wearing hats and using a water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
Use Heat and Cold
Heat wraps help reduce joint stiffness and muscle aches. Cold helps reduce swelling. Apply cold packs to your sore, swollen joints and burning skin.
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