“If I didn’t cycle, I’d be in a much worse position”: How cycling has helped Ed’s psoriatic arthritis12 October 2023
If you have arthritis, cycling can be a great way to exercise. Unlike high-impact exercises such as running, cycling puts very little stress on your joints, and can be beneficial in improving your range of movement.
54-year-old restaurant manager Ed was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis about 17 years ago, and has cycled most days ever since. He tells us about living with psoriatic arthritis and how cycling has helped him both mentally and physically.
Being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis
Psoriatic arthritis is an auto-immune condition. This means that the immune system, which is the body’s natural self-defence system, gets confused and starts to attack the body’s healthy tissues.
Psoriatic arthritis can cause pain, swelling and stiffness in and around your joints. It usually affects 3 in 10 people who already have the skin condition psoriasis.
Ed got his arthritis diagnosis after catching a virus. “I woke up in the middle of the night and the virus set in,” he says. “My knees, which had always been quite weak, filled up with a large amount of fluid. My flatmate at the time took me to the nearest hospital and that’s when it started.”
“I don’t really have outward psoriasis, so that’s the weird thing. It’s very rare that the psoriasis comes out.”
Cycling with arthritis
Ed has always been very active. He loved cycling long before he got his arthritis diagnosis. “Cycling is a big passion of mine,” he says. “From a young child, I liked it. I used to cycle to school out into the countryside. I like building bikes as well.
“I like to push myself. When you’re cycling, you’re the boss. I like the fact that I’m in control of how I get to work. I’m not waiting for a bus or the tube. There’s a sense of freedom.”
Whether you’re cycling outdoors or using an exercise bike at the gym, cycling is a great way to keep joints healthy and stay active. Ed is aware of the benefits of cycling, and he was determined to stick with it after he was diagnosed with arthritis.
“My GP has told me how important it is to keep active and keep moving,” he says. “You really use your hips and knees when you cycle. If I didn’t cycle, I don’t think my joints would be as strong as they are now.”
“Even with my knee strapped up, I kept at it. I’m just one of these people – I’m determined to carry on doing what I can."
“When you stop being active, the pain is so much worse”
However, Ed has noticed that he can’t exercise as rigorously now he has arthritis. Considering his love for cycling, limiting himself can be quite frustrating.
“If I was to go on a long cycle, I’d really suffer the next day,” he says. “My hip would get too sore. So, I do limit myself in how much exercise I can do. I find that quite frustrating because I like to push myself, so I have to say, 'No, slow down'.”
Mental health and arthritis
Many people with arthritis find it has an impact on their mental health. It’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling low, isolated or overwhelmed when you live with daily pain and fatigue.
Ed has struggled with his mental health since being diagnosed with arthritis.
“When I look back, there are times I probably was depressed,” he says. “I was like, 'What the hell is going on here?' 17 years ago, there wasn’t as much information about inflammatory arthritis.
“I kept my diagnosis to myself at first. I wouldn’t tell people I had arthritis. Back then, I wanted to beat it. I didn’t want people to treat me differently and I wanted to carry on as normally as I could. But people could see something wasn’t right. I’d get comments that I wasn’t walking properly.
“Looking back, I wish I’d been more expressive about the fact that I was suffering and in pain.”
Ed knows how important it is to look after your mental health when you have arthritis. He encourages people to stay positive, and to find something like cycling that helps to boost feelings of wellbeing.
“Your emotional state has a lot to do with your arthritis,” he says. “So, it’s good to try and keep on top of it. I think if I didn’t cycle, I’d be in a much worse position.”
We’re here to help
Being active has hugely helped Ed to keep on top of his condition. If you would like to find ways to stay active, why not try Let’s Move with Leon?
This is a 12-week programme, consisting of 30-minute sessions, designed to help you improve mobility, posture, balance, cardiovascular and respiratory fitness and strength.
You can also join our Let’s Move Facebook group, a space where people share their experience of staying active when living with arthritis, or sign up to our Let’s Move newsletter to receive advice and top tips on how to stay active with arthritis.
If you need advice or support, you can: