Are you ready?
Last week, a mega-fit friend who helps me be in shape and on my tiptoes, asked me a million-dollar question. What are the best exercises for people diagnosed with lupus?
I had heard my doctor’s opinions, but I had never researched that answer. After chatting with her, it sparked my curiosity, and I decided to share my learning findings with you all.
My doctor asked me to keep moving. If I was in a fatigue flare, I had to take a Celebrex and exercise. It didn’t matter how much, as even little could help the recovery journey.
So, I did. Some days 5 min, others when I was feeling great, I was able to work out for the whole hour.
Listening to Your Body
The trick was to do not overwork, and avoid high impact exercises to do not irritate the inflamed joints. The purpose was to become healthier and help my own system control the lupus flares with all the happy hormones triggered by the exercise.
I know it may feel overwhelming to put one more thing in our to-do list when we are not feeling our best. That said, I decided to write down a few things that have helped me, maybe it can make a positive difference for you, as well. Please, remember to talk to your doctor before starting exercising, as we are all different.
Put your sneakers on or not!
Practicing yoga has done wonders for my joints, flexibility, and muscle pain. I am not talking about the intense Bikram yoga, but instead a type that stretches the connected tissues and forces us to do really go through deep breathing cycles. I also love restorative yoga, which I call yoga for sleep. It is super yummy and soothing, perfect to practice in the evening, or at home before bedtime. It relaxes the body while doing the poses when it ends, I am ready to sleep. So, no harsh poses, just caring and loving the body, being grateful and caring. When my energy level is better, I join a Vinyasa class. That is more intense, and I sweat and get tired after it, mostly in the most advanced courses. It helps with focus and balance while making me stronger. It does not matter which one I do, I always finish a yoga class at peace, feeling more alive and with a sense of mission completion, which is fantastic.
If you have lupus plus other conditions like me ( RA and OA ), you probably feel all the stiffness from your head till your toes. Joints are sore, and I feel ‘rusty’ for hours. Easy stretches have helped me tons. It does not have to last long, nor be hurtful. I do it just enough to remind my body that I love him, and I want it to be able to move well. I also noticed that combining the stretches after a warm bath with Epson salt is a powerful combination to control the pain.
Lightweight regularly has helped me tone my muscles enough to avoid that flare soreness that feels like I have been beaten. With the right weight, repetition, and when possible, under the supervision of someone more knowledgeable, I am getting stronger.
People say walking is a preventive exercise for almost every disease, and this was the top recommendation prescribed by my rheumatologist. He asked me to do a mindful walk every day. With the duration of 20 – 40 min, just put the sneakers and let my dog take me for a stroll. If you are not into walking, or the weather is not helping, choose another low-impact exercise. Using a stationary bike was another one suggested. The goal was to wake up my heart by moving my joints and muscles.
Exercising in a warm pool helps mitigate my pain and go easy on my joints. I have tried a few different classes, but my favorite is swimming or water HIIT. Both help me work out my entire body, get some cardio going, and the water warmth feels good!
While exercise has been beneficial for me, I have followed my doctor’s directions, and I suggest to each one of you to do the same. Lupus is a non-stop balancing act of listening to our body needs and pushing it forward. So, identify what gives you joy, list some ideas, and bring them to your doctor.