Psoriatic Arthritis on Hand
Research has suggested that lower levels of cardiorespiratory fitness from an early age may increase the risk of developing psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Patients with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis often experience pain and discomfort, and can have comorbidities that include cardiovascular disease. In looking for ways to reduce their risk of developing psoriatic diseases or causing a flare-up, these patients may look to fitness. How effective is fitness at decreasing risk?

A 2012 study in Archives of Dermatology examined the possible link between physical activity and psoriasis, concluding that higher levels of physical activity may decrease the risk of incident psoriasis in women.¹ Recently, studies have examined whether it is possible for fitness at an early age to affect the risk of psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis. One study published in PLOS ONE in 2021 specifically examined whether cardiorespiratory fitness in late adolescence could affect risk.² What were the findings of this study?

Fitness and Psoriatic Arthritis

The researchers reviewed data from the Swedish National Patient Register on 1,228,562 men who enlisted in the Swedish military from 1968 to 2005 to see if they experienced psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis from their date of conscription through December 31, 2016. Their cardiorespiratory fitness data was categorized into high, medium, and low scores.

From 1968 to 2000, 871 of the subjects were diagnosed with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. Of them, those with low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness had 6.03 cases of incidence per 100,000 person-years, while subjects with high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness had just 3.68. From 2001 to 2016, 22,425 subjects were diagnosed with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis. In these years, the group with low cardiorespiratory fitness levels had 167.1 incidences per 100,000 person-years, compared to 116 among subjects with high levels. The researchers concluded that low levels of cardiorespiratory fitness could be seen as a risk factor for psoriatic arthritis.

What Should Your Patients Do?

Your patients should do what they can to bolster their cardiorespiratory fitness. While much of cardiorespiratory health is hereditary, there are still exercises one can do to try and improve their health. For example:³

  • Jumping jacks
  • Running in place
  • Burpees
  • Hopping squats
  • Jogging
  • Cycling
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Aerobics

If they are worried about their cardiorespiratory fitness, psoriatic arthritis, or cardiovascular disease, encourage your patients to bring up these concerns with you. Also, try to develop an exercise regimen that targets them specifically.

References

1. Frankel HC, Han J, Li T, Qureshi AA. The association between physical activity and the risk of incident psoriasis. Arch Dermatol. 2012 Aug;148(8):918-24. doi: 10.1001/archdermatol.2012.943. PMID: 22911187; PMCID: PMC4102422.

2. Laskowski M, Schiöler L, Gustafsson H, Wennberg AM, Åberg M, Torén K. Cardiorespiratory fitness in late adolescence and long-term risk of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis among Swedish men. PLoS One. 2021;16(1):e0243348. Published 2021 Jan 11. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0243348

3. Cronkleton E. Cardiorespiratory endurance: tests and exercises. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/cardiorespiratory-endurance. Reviewed September 29, 2018. Accessed March 10, 2022.