Move Your Body. This is Why.

Link between exercise and wellbeing

Move Your Body. This is Why. 

This month, I talked about the importance of paying attention to our mental behavior on my blog Want to Ditch Anxiety? Read This as well as our diet choices on Want to Become Healthier? Eat This. Numerous medical studies suggest lupus symptoms can flare up during times of stress.

Traditional western medicine is becoming more open to the importance of a broad spectrum of options to achieve integrative health.

After the diagnose, I started to read about lupus and its impact on people’s life. I found an excellent book called The Lupus Encyclopedia, written by Dr. Donald E. Thomas, Jr..This book is a must-read for anyone who has lupus or has a beloved one with an autoimmune condition.

Living with a chronic condition means having to look at our bodies with systemic eyes, and that is what Dr. Donald E. Thomas, Jr. does in his book.

Moving our bodies when we are fatigued, in pain, depressed ( which are all symptoms of lupus, or side effects of medication we take to help control it) is challenging. On the other hand, because of the pain, fatigue, and prednisone intake, it gets easy to skip exercising and gain weight; and that becomes a trap to our health.

Why is Exercising So Important?

There are many known benefits to exercising. Nowadays, with so much uncertainty and emotional stress due to COVID-19, it gets even more critical. Exercising can help in different areas, as it helps:

  • Decrease depression and anxiety levels
  • Improve self-esteem and sense of well-being
  • Improve sleep quality
  • Decrease pro-inflammatory HDL cholesterol levels
  • Reduce fat weight, which has multiple benefits associated with it

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” ― Henry David Thoreau

I Can’t Do This

When my rheumatologist back in California told me I had to exercise a bit every day, I felt overwhelmed. The question I had in my mind was – don’t you see I am either too tired or with too much pain to move? I cannot do this!

I got it wrong – he was not asking me to exercise for 30 min every day, get ready for a marathon, nor attend a spin class. He was asking me to mindfully start including an exercise routine in my daily habits – little by little. After I started exercising consistently and felt the benefits, I understood why. 

Start Small and Grow Big

We should become an expert about our body, and listen to it. Our body guides us. We need to respect its limits and aim for gradual, steady progress. The goal is to improve our quality of life and feel good about ourselves type of feeling.

  • Start with a few minutes of a low-impact aerobic exercise. Choose what feels right for you: a brisk walk, treadmill, swimming, your call. Commit for a few minutes. It has to be an amount of time that is achievable and a realistic goal. 
  • Include some weight-bearing activities, which is when your feet and legs support you as you move. My bones get more fragile due to my prednisone intake. Yoga and walking my dog are my go-to choices. They help center my mind, tone my body, and stretch my muscles and connected tissues. Other weight-bearing activity options such as dancing, tai-chi are great as well. 
  • Strength-training is another excellent option to wake up our muscles, and I recommend finding someone who can help you do it right. Start with low weight, and increase gradually. I am grateful to have a fantastic trainer called Aline, that happens to be one of my best friends. Her patience and dedication to my well-being have made a world of difference to my health. I am stronger, and adjusting the exercises helps me a lot control my pain level. Check this workout routine from Caroline Jordan. It is very similar to some activities I do at home with her help.

“Get comfortable with being uncomfortable!” ― Jillian Michaels

As an autoimmune patient, my doctor prescribed me 30 min daily of low-impact exercises. That included yoga, a little of strength-training, and brisk walks. I started feeling better about myself and more energetic.

Talk to your doctor about potentially adding some exercise in your routine. Ask him/her what would make your life better. Find someone to buddy with; it will be an incentive to chat while you sweat. 

Use movement as complementary medicine. Get professional help if you can. Knowledge is power.

Yours truly,

Hope

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2 thoughts on “Move Your Body. This is Why.

  1. Wonderful post, “Lupus Hope.” Keep helping lupus patients learn how to live better and longer. I am so glad you found my book helpful. … Don Thomas, MD of “The Lupus Encyclopedia”

  2. Dr. Thomas, I am very grateful for all the work you have done. The help and information I found in your book was remarkable. It answered lots of my questions and helped me discover ways I could help control my flares. Please, continue to help us. Many blessings! 🙂

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