Exercise for People Living With Lupus
Last updated: April 2023
Between joint pain, fatigue, and sun sensitivity, it can be difficult for people living with lupus to find the right type of exercise for them. While some people with lupus may be too sick at times to exercise, many benefit from having a regular exercise routine. Some people living with lupus who exercise regularly might notice a decrease in their fatigue as well as experience less joint pain. The following exercises are gentle on the joints and are low intensity. As always, speak with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine to make sure it's safe for you.
Founded by Joseph Pilates, Pilates is an exercise that can be modified for different ability levels. Similar to yoga, Pilates emphasizes breathing, alignment, balance, and flexibility. Pilates is performed on a platform with a moving carriage and springs of various strengths called a reformer. A typical Pilates workout begins with footwork as the participant lies on the reformer. It ends with a cool-down period and stretching. Pilates is most commonly taught in a studio by an instructor, but you can also find Pilates instructional videos on YouTube for free. This form of exercise is good for people living with lupus who experience dizziness or motion sickness because Pilates can mostly be done lying down. Modern Pilates studios have evolved to combine elements of ballet, barre, yoga, and isometric training.
Yoga originated in India as a spiritual practice. Not just a physical exercise, it emphasizes mental focus and balance. Modern yoga in the western world is less spiritual than its origin and involves holding poses and positions, or asanas. Deliberate and slow breathing is an important part of yoga. Yoga is accepting of all ability levels and can be modified for those with physical limitations. Like Pilates, yoga begins with a warmup period and ends with a cool-down period and a moment of reflection. Many different types of yoga exist, including Bikram Yoga, also known as hot yoga, which is done at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike Pilates, no special equipment is required, although many practitioners of yoga prefer to use a yoga mat. Yoga has become a popular exercise in America. You can find a yoga studio near you, take a yoga class at a gym, or find yoga videos on YouTube.
The term weight- lifting often conjures images of men and women with hulk-like muscles grunting as they heft-straining barbells. However, weight-lifting doesn't have to be competitive or involve lifting a barbell the size of a cow. Doing reps with 1-5lbs free weights can still tone your muscles and help you build endurance and stamina. Best of all, weight-lifting is inexpensive. You can purchase free weights online or at a sporting goods store like Academy. Watch videos online, keep a logbook of your exercises or reps, or work with a personal trainer to get you started.
"We should go forth on the shortest walk, perchance, in the spirit of undying adventure," Henry David Thoreau said about walking through the woods near Walden Pond. Walking is the ultimate free exercise if you are able to do it. An opportunity to connect with the outdoors is healthy for your mind as well as your body.
Always remember to ask your doctor before choosing an exercise regimen, as well as listen to your body to make sure you're not overworking yourself.
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?