Swimming with my Psoriasis
As a former NFL athlete, I love to find different ways to keep my body active and feeling strong. As a person living with psoriasis, I try to remain mindful of the stress and demand that certain forms of exercise can place on my body. Needless to say, having played a rough and tough sport like football for so many years, I also want to avoid the risk of injuring myself. That is why I personally like the idea of low-impact activities that pack a big bang for the buck. Although I engage in many forms of physical activity, I have personally become a fan of swimming. While swimming is a relatively low-impact pursuit, as always, I recommend consulting your physician before starting or making changes to your exercise plan.
Today I am going to discuss some of the reasons why I have chosen to incorporate swimming into my own training routine. Swimming is a low-impact way to get my body moving and energized. When I say that swimming is low-impact, I mean that it puts less strain on my joints, bones, and muscles. At 6’7” and over 300 pounds, I have a lot of mass to move around. Due to the buoyancy of water, my body feels much lighter than it is and I am still able to incorporate a wide range of motions. I try to avoid workouts that require explosive movements, jumping, or really heavy weights. While all of those things can be great for some folk, they are not really a part of my goals at the moment. My goals are to stay strong, toned, and minimize injury.
For many years, despite hearing positive things about swimming, I’d dismissed it because I thought “hey, that’s great…but I need to do ‘real’ exercise.” I was so accustomed to intense drills, lifting heavy weights, and other high-impact activities that I thought there was no way that SWIMMING would be able to give me the results I wanted. Boy, was I ever wrong! You see, I made the mistake of confusing low-impact with low effort. While there are no barbells to lug or lift, swimming still qualifies as resistance training in my book. If you have ever tried walking (or wading) through water, you may know what I mean; it’s no stroll in the park (pun intended). The resistance of moving through water can feel greater than that of simply moving regularly through air.
I find that swimming is a fun way to burn calories. There are a several different strokes you can use to add variety or change the level of intensity during your session: breast stroke, butterfly stroke, back stroke, and so many more. While the actual calories you burn may depend on a number of factors, let me tell you that I usually find myself burning way more calories by swimming for 30 minutes than I do walking for the same amount of time. Additionally, it can be a full body workout which saves me time in the gym.
No, I don’t mean cool as in trendy or awesome (although I do think it’s kind of awesome). Unlike lifting weights in the gym or running on a treadmill, exercising in water can have a cooling effect. What do I mean by that? I don’t know about you but, when I am training, I tend to work up a good sweat. In the summer months, I sweat even more whether I am training indoors or outdoors. While I always do my best to hydrate, if I am not careful, my body can definitely begin to overheat. When I am swimming, the cold water keeps my skin cool and lowers my body temperature a bit. Best of all, I am not sweating all over the place. I finish feeling cool and refreshed.
One of my favorite aspects of swimming is that it can be fun and social. While swimming can be a great form of exercise, it can also be a nice way to relax with family and friends. For example, going to the beach or having an outing at the lake can be a nice time to catch up with folk and create some special memories. I like to splash around in the ocean, challenge friends to swimming races, float, and just have an all-around good time. If you feel a little shy about exposing your skin due to your psoriasis, having a group of loving people around you for support may possibly make it easier to enjoy some time in the water. However, if you would still like to cover up a bit more, there are plenty of swimwear options that might help: board shorts, surfer tops, wetsuits, etc.
While I understand it may not be for everyone, these are just a few of the many reasons why I love to swim. Until next time, have fun and remember to stay PsoSTRONG™!
Any suggestions made are not intended to replace the advice of a qualified medical professional. Please consult your healthcare provider prior to making any changes to your treatment, exercise or diet routine.