Why Exercise is Essential

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Exercise is an important component of treating Lupus. Many people with diseases that affect the joints, like Lupus, sometimes operate under the assumption that they should not exercise because they may increase inflammation. However, that assumption is purely false. Exercise is an essential part of treating the disease.

Exercise is helpful in counteracting many of the effects Lupus has on the body. Exercise improves mood and reduces stress. It can help patients maintain a healthy weight preventing added stress on bodily functioning and diseases like diabetes. It keeps the heart healthy and prevents the development of muscle atrophy, joint stiffness, and osteoporosis. Exercise also increases pain tolerance and prevents arthritic symptoms.

While not all types of exercise are appropriate for every person, there are so many ways a person can exercise, that every person should be able to find a healthy exercise routine. Whether you are young or old coping with lupus can be made easier with some appropriate exercise every day.

Creating an Exercise Plan

The hardest part of developing an exercise plan is actually getting started. Many people have the intention of exercising, but never really do it. However, every patient is different, so before you start exercising you should discuss your options with your physician. A physician will be able to evaluate your overall condition and fitness level so you can choose the appropriate level of activity and type of exercise for you.

In order to remain motivated in your exercise plan, you should find someone to be an exercise buddy. It can be more fun and hold you accountable. Also it is helpful to have some variety in your exercise program so you do not get bored with exercising. For instance you can walk one day and do water aerobics the next. You may also want to decide on higher impact activities for days you are feeling well and lower impact activities for days you are not feeling well.

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When you decide on your activities you should have realistic goals. If you have never exercised before, you should not plan on running a marathon next week. Have both long and short-term goals so that you do not get discouraged. It is also helpful to keep a log chart of your exercise activity to remain motivated. Also plan ahead for obstacles that can keep you from exercising and start off slow, building up a routine over time.

One aspect of exercise that many people forget is the stretch and warm-up. For lupus patients that often experience muscle and joint pain, the warm up is very important. Warming up and stretching prevents damage from occurring to the joints and muscles. You should also cool the joints down after exercise by doing some stretching. It will prevent stiffness later. Some people often use cold packs after exercising and heating packs before and after to heat sore joints.

The types of exercise you choose are highly personal. Every patient has different capabilities and interests. The most commonly chosen forms of exercise by Lupus patients are aerobic exercise, hydrotherapy, and weight training. Many patients utilize a combination of all three to target different areas and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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Aerobic Exercise

Aerobic exercise stimulates the cardiorespiratory system. This type of exercise uses the large muscles in the body in a repetitive manner to improve the functioning of the heart, lungs, and muscles. It is exercise that improves weight, mood, sleep patterns, and overall health.

Most people associate aerobic exercise with activities like walking, aerobics, bicycling, stairclimbing, running, and more. When people are asked to picture aerobic exercise it is often portrayed as a group activity in the gym, on a stair machine, or running on the side of the road. Many of those types of aerobic activity are known as high impact aerobics, and may cause some joint irritation.

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However, there are other types of aerobic exercise that are not quite as intense known as low-impact aerobics. They involved walking and cycling, and they are known to decrease fatigue. Even some daily activities are low-impact like mowing the lawn, raking leaves, or walking the dog.

Doctors currently recommend that people get about 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity 3 to 5 days per week. For many people with lupus this may seem an incredible hurdle, but the time can be spread out during the day or week into ten-minute intervals. Spreading the aerobic exercise out throughout the day offers the same health benefits. It also allows for more scheduling flexibility and the ability to work within pain and fatigue tolerances.

When doing aerobic exercise, a patient should keep it at a moderate level. This means that the person should be able to talk normally. By keeping the aerobic activity at a moderate level the exerciser does not get out of breath or overheated, meaning the activity can be sustained for a longer period of time. If you feel pain during your workout, you might want to decrease the intensity.

Any aerobic activity should be taken on gradually. No one should attempt to run a marathon if they have barely gotten off the couch for ten years. Start off slow with walking or riding a bike for a few minutes to build up endurance. Also, be patient with your progress. Before any aerobic session you should prep the muscles with a warm up of stretches, and after you are done you should cool down with more stretches. The warm-up and cool down will prevent cramping and joint stiffness.
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Thank you, Freedom from Lupus.
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