A study of American women published in Archives of Dermatology shows that energetic, physical activity could be linked to a reduced risk of psoriasis, a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that redness, irritation and scaling.

According to the researchers, physical activity has already been linked to a lower risk of disorders caused by systemic inflammation, such as type 2 diabetes, breast and colon cancer and coronary artery disease.

They write:

“Our results suggest that participation in at least 20.9 MET (metabolic equivalent task)-hours per week of vigorous exercise, the equivalent of 105 minutes of running or 180 minutes of swimming or playing tennis, is associated with a 25 percent to 30 percent reduced risk of psoriasis compared with not participating in any vigorous exercise.”

Hillary C. Frankel, A.B., of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and her team obtained data from 86,665 women who took part in the Nurses’ Health Study II. None of the women suffered from psoriasis at the start of the study in 1991. After completing physical activity surveys at baseline in 1991, in 1997 and in 2001, the researchers noted 1,026 incidents of psoriasis.

They observed that in comparison with the least active women, those who reported the highest physical activity had a lower multivariate relative risk of psoriasis of 0.72. The researchers note that walking was not linked to a lower risk of the condition, saying:

“Among the individual vigorous activities we evaluated, only running and performing aerobic exercise or calisthenics were associated with a reduced risk of psoriasis. Other vigorous activities, including jogging, playing tennis, swimming and bicycling were not associated with psoriasis risk. The highly variable intensity at which these activities are performed may account for this finding.”

They indicate to conduct further studies to evaluate how physical activity may reduce the risk of psoriasis, and conclude, “In addition to providing other health benefits, participation in vigorous exercise may represent a new preventive measure for women at high risk of developing psoriasis. Additional corroborative studies and further investigations into the mechanisms by which physical activity protects against new-onset psoriasis are needed.”

Written By Petra Rattue