Exercise and Lupus

Arthritis, Healthy Aging, Healthy Living
on June 27, 2011

While lupus can be horribly debilitating — with about 80 percent of lupus sufferers dealing with moderate to severe fatigue — it is still extremely important for those with the disease to adhere to a healthy exercise schedule. The Lupus Foundation of America Inc. states, “Just like everyone else, people with lupus need to exercise regularly or engage in some kind of movement.” Regardless of the level of disability caused by lupus, there are some types of exercise you can do that will improve your overall health and may have benefits on alleviating the symptoms of the disease.

Types of exercises for lupus. Always discuss an exercise routine with your doctor before starting. In most cases, exercises for people with lupus involve low-impact exercises that focus on reducing stress on the joints. These might include bicycle riding (either stationary or conventional), swimming, weight lifting or resistance exercises, and using low-impact exercise machines such as elliptical machines. Certain types of yoga and Pilates are specifically tailored to aid in pain relief by teaching better ways to move while strengthening the core muscles.

The benefits of exercise. Exercise is essential in weight control and overall body health. The body is designed to move, and without proper exercise, there is less vascular and lymphatic circulation. This may aggravate fatigue and lack of mental clarity while allowing excessive fluid retention. Exercises also help distribute the fluid in the joints for better lubrication, which may help reduce pain and inflammation. Most importantly, exercise improves muscle tone, which in turn better supports the joints to reduce impact stress. The more a particular muscle is exercised, the stronger it will be, and the less likely it will be to lose tone and function throughout the course of the disease.

Staying active with lupus. In most cases, you can stay active even in advanced stages of lupus. While some types of activity may be limited due to lupus pain, regularly participating in the highest safe and comfortable level of activity will help ensure that you will continue being able to reach that activity level. Lupus cannot be cured, but with the right treatment and a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to live well with the disease.