Get Your Fitness On

Exercising with an autoimmune disease can seem daunting to nearly impossible, but let’s face it – it seems that way for a lot of people without an autoimmune disease!

Just like the general public it is important for people with lupus, and other autoimmune diseases to exercise. Certain exercise routines are recommended over others.

What Exercise is OK?

Joint pain and fatigue are just two of the symptoms that many lupus patients deal with. It is important to develop a routine that minimizes joint damage, while still promoting healthy joint movement. It is also important to try to exercise, within limits, to increase your stamina, and decrease some of the effects of lupus fatigue.

Low impact workouts, such as walking, swimming, bicycling, and certain types of yoga, pilates, stretching and elliptical machine work, are great for strengthening your bones and toning muscles. As with all exercise, it is good to have a variety of movements to hit multiple muscle groups.

If you find that you are a person that is eager to get your exercise on and you start out in a sprint, rather than a stretch, you may need to back off your initial work out plan, and ease into a regular routine. Even then, depending on your disease activity level, stress in your life, and general health, you may have to vary your routine frequency to keep your disease levels low and keep yourself feeling well.

After I had my son, I was overly eager to get my exercise on and begin my approach back to my pre-baby body. I started out way too quickly and way too much. It became very obvious that I needed to eliminate certain types of exercise I was doing, and focus on others with a limited number of days a week. My joints were beyond sore in a good way, and I was stressed and exhausted trying to push myself to work out and meet the demands of my life. I have always been one to try to ignore limitations. However, finding the right balance is what is most important.

How Does Exercise Help?

• Minimize stress
• Healthy Heart
• Improves muscle stiffness
• Increases muscle strength
• Helps prevent osteoporosis
• Increases your range of motion.
• Helps reduce fatigue

Often fatigue is something that prevents most lupus patients from exercise. The thought of getting out of bed is incredibly overwhelming during active disease, so it’s tough to imagine yourself getting up and then performing a fitness workout. However, starting out small and working your way into your routine is what will help you start to overcome some of that fatigue.

Tips to Manage Fatigue

• Alternate your activities with periods of rest
• Establish good sleep patterns
• Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly
• Stop smoking
• Plan ahead – even for things like meals and shopping

Whatever your interest is, check with your doctor about whether or not that type of fitness is appropriate for your personal situation. You will feel so much better about yourself, and your disease if you get your fitness on.


The Lupus Foundation Website: