Clinical Review

Do Psoriasis Patients Engage In Vigorous Physical Activity?

Author and Disclosure Information

Psoriasis is associated with cardiovascular risk factors and myocardial infarction, but regular physical activity is known to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease. We performed a systematic review of PubMed articles indexed for MEDLINE as well as articles in the Embase database and Cochrane Library using the search terms psoriasis and physical activity to determine the likelihood of psoriasis patients to engage in vigorous physical activity. A total of 353 nonduplicate articles were identified, and of 4 relevant studies, one provided sufficient data and was included in our review. Results from our review indicate that individuals with psoriasis are less likely to participate in vigorous physical activity compared to individuals without psoriasis. Further research is necessary to clarify this relationship.

Practice Points

  • Psoriasis is associated with comorbid disease conditions, including cardiovascular disease.
  • Regular physical activity is known to decrease the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.
  • Patients with psoriasis would likely benefit from regular participation in vigorous physical activity to help reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.



Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects approximately 2% to 3% of the US population.1 Patients with psoriasis are more likely to have cardiovascular risk factors (eg, obesity, metabolic syndrome) than individuals without psoriasis.2 In fact, recent evidence has suggested that a diagnosis of psoriasis is an independent risk factor for cardiometabolic diseases including diabetes, major adverse cardiovascular events, and obesity.3 Given the well-recognized health benefits of physical activity and the associated reduction in coronary heart disease risk,4 patients with psoriasis specifically may benefit from regular participation in physical activity. Thus, an enhanced understanding of the relationship between psoriasis and vigorous physical activity would help determine the role of initiating and recommending interventions that implement physical activity for patients with psoriasis. A review was conducted to determine the relationship between psoriasis and vigorous physical activity.


An English-language literature search of PubMed articles indexed for MEDLINE (January 1, 1946–October 15, 2017) as well as articles in the Embase database (January 1, 1947–October 15, 2017) and Cochrane Library (January 1, 1992–October 15, 2017) using the terms psoriasis and physical activity was performed. The search strategy was established based on a prior review of vigorous physical activity in eczema.5 The article titles and/or abstracts were reviewed, and the studies were excluded if they did not evaluate physical activity in patients with psoriasis. Studies without a control group also were excluded. Articles on patients with psoriatic arthritis and studies that involved modification of dietary intake also were excluded.

Two reviewers (M.A. and E.B.L.) independently extracted data from the studies and compiled the results. The following factors were included in the data extracted: study year, location, and design; method of diagnosis of psoriasis; total number of patients included in the study; and age, gender, and level of physical activity of the study patients. Level of physical activity was the exposure, and diagnosis of psoriasis was the dependent variable. Physical activity was defined differently across the studies that were evaluated. To determine study quality, we implemented the Newcastle–Ottawa Scale (NOS), a 9-star scoring system that includes items such as selection criteria, comparability, and study outcome.6 Studies with an NOS score of 7 or higher were included in the meta-analysis.


The literature search generated 353 nonduplicate articles. A thorough review of the articles yielded 4 studies that were incorporated in the final analysis.7-10 We aimed to perform a meta-analysis; however, only 1 of the studies included in the final analysis had an NOS score of 7 or higher along with adequate data to be incorporated into our study.10 As a result, the meta-analysis was converted to a regular review.

The cross-sectional study we reviewed, which had an NOS score of 7, included males and females in the United States aged 20 to 59 years.10 Data were collected using the population-based National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2003 to 2006. The survey measured the likelihood of participation in leisure-time moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and metabolic equivalent task (MET) minutes of MVPA in the past 30 days. Of 6549 participants, 385 were excluded from the analysis due to missing values for 1 or more of the study variables. Of the remaining 6164 participants, 84 (1.4%) reported having a diagnosis of psoriasis with few or no psoriasis patches at the time of the survey, and 71 (1.2%) reported having a diagnosis of psoriasis with few to extensive patches at the time of the survey.10

Participants with psoriasis were less likely to participate in MVPA in the previous 30 days compared to participants without psoriasis, but the association was not statistically significant.10 The study demonstrated that, on average, participants with psoriasis spent 31% (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.57 to 0.05) fewer MET minutes on leisure-time MVPA versus participants without psoriasis; however, this association was not statistically significant. It is important to note that the diagnosis of psoriasis was self-reported, and measures of disease duration or areas of involvement were not incorporated.


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