Why Lupus patients should exercise?
Today is World Lupus Day, and we are currently at Purple May – the Lupus Awareness Month. In honor of these dates, I am approaching every week a “Lupus Fact.” Today is about lupus and exercise.
Whether or not a person has lupus, exercise is a critical way to take care of our health. Exercise has many physical, emotional, and social benefits. It has been beneficial for me for many reasons, and most people with lupus can take part in some form of activity.
From a physical standpoint, exercise can strengthen parts of our bodies affected by lupus — the heart, lungs, bones, and joints. It can help reduce inflammation by regulating some of the chemicals involved in the inflammation process. Exercise can help control weight gain caused by the use of corticosteroid medications and keep your body conditioned. It can also reduce fatigue. Regular exercise and even simple low-impact movement will make muscles less stiff, increase your range of motion and help you reduce the risk of heart disease.
Exercise may also boost our mental health, making it easier to cope with life stressors and potentially improving mood and self-esteem. Exercising with a buddy has given me the moral support to stick with my exercise routine while making my fitness time double as social time.
Be sure to discuss potential exercise plans with your physician or exercise specialist to maximize results and minimize possible harm. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, low-impact aerobics, certain types of yoga, Pilates, stretching, water exercise, or using an elliptical exercise machine will strengthen your bones and tone your muscles without aggravating inflamed joints. At the same time, these activities help to lower the risk of developing osteoporosis. It’s also a good idea to vary the exercises so that different muscle groups all get a regular workout.
If you are experiencing swollen joints or muscle pain, you should avoid or at least limit high-impact activities that may be demanding on joints and muscles, such as jogging, or high-impact aerobics.
If you find that you get tired easily when you exercise, you should pace yourself, start slowly. The most important thing to remember is to not give up exercising, as muscles that are not used will quickly become weak.