Exercise that reduces psoriasis risk, what does that mean?
Anyone can develop psoriasis at any age. It’s a frightening fact. But fortunately medical researchers are working hard in an effort to understand what puts people at a lower risk for developing the disease. One recent study, published originally in the “Archives of Dermatology,” indicated that people who exercise vigorously on a regular basis have less of a chance of developing psoriasis.
Not Just Any Kind of Exercise
The study—conducted by Hillary C. Frankel, A.B., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, and her colleagues—involved researching the data gathered by the Nurses’ Health Study II. Over 86,000 women, none of whom had psoriasis at the beginning of the study in 1991, filled out questionnaires regarding their physical activity levels in 1991, 1997 and 2001. During that course of time, 1,026 women developed psoriasis. Researchers determined that the women who were the most physically active had a much lower risk—25 to 30% lower— than those women who did not exercise regularly.
One important note regarding this study is how the researchers defined the term “vigorous.”
Essentially, the only type of regular exercise that appeared to reduce the women’s risk of developing psoriasis was very strenuous—running, calisthenics or aerobic exercise. And only women who did this type of exercise for at least 105 minutes each week reduced their risk.
While the study is certainly interesting, the results are not entirely conclusive at this point. Researchers agree that the topic warrants more study. Whatever a person can do to reduce the risk of developing psoriasis would definitely be worth the time invested in the activity. Not only is psoriasis a painful, annoying, and embarrassing skin disorder, it’s also often accompanied by depression, arthritis and even an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Psoriasis affects over 7 million people in the U.S. alone, and an estimated 125 million worldwide. Considering those numbers, we need all the information we can get regarding how to reduce the risk factors.
Assess Your Risk Factors for Psoriasis
While it’s true that anyone can develop psoriasis, there are some conditions that put people at greater risk. Perhaps the biggest risk factor of all is genetics—it is estimated that at least 40% of psoriasis patients have one or more family members who have the disease. Stress is a contributing factor because too much stress compromises your immune system. People who experience bacterial and viral infections are in a higher risk category—specifically, people who suffer from a weakened immune system (such as people with HIV) and children who repeatedly develop infections (strep throat, for example) are at greater risk for developing psoriasis. Smoking not only increases your risk for developing the disease, but it also makes it worse once you have it. Obesity is yet another risk factor.
If you believe that you fall into a high risk category, and particularly if psoriasis runs in your family, talk to your doctor about steps you can take to reduce the chances of contracting the disease. Ask him or her about this study and whether vigorous exercise makes sense for you. Chances are your M.D. can help determine the best preventive measures that you can take to safeguard yourself and those you care about.
Roxanne Jones is a health and beauty writer for Cadiz Laser Spa, a medical spa in Austin TX that offers laser skin treatment by highly trained medical professionals as well as facials and laser hair removal. For more information, you can contact the team at Cadiz Laser Spa, 5656 Bee Caves Road, Austin, TX 78746, Phone (512) 306-1619.