Exercise for People with Lupus*
Exercise for People with Lupus*

April 18, 2019

According to Henry Ford, “Exercise is bunk. If you are healthy, you don’t need it: if you are sick you should not take it.”

Just the opposite says Clinical Specialist Exercise Physiologist Heather Milton, MS, RCEP, CSCS at NYU Langone Medical Center Sports Performance Center. Presenting at the Lupus Lifestyle Series sponsored by the Lupus Research Alliance Young Leaders Board, Ms. Milton spelled out the many benefits of exercise for people with lupus:

Exercise and Mental Health

  • Equivalent to psychotherapy in reducing depression
  • Reduces anxiety, enhances confidence and empowerment, improves ability to think

Exercise and Sleep

  • Reduces insomnia and improves quality of sleep
  • Getting enough sleep can help alleviate some of the side effects of medications and effects of lupus i.e. bone density, inflammation

Exercise and Physical Health

  • Exercise particularly helps reduce pain and perception of pain
  • Can reduce hair loss, muscle weakness, skin sensitivity, weight gain, high cholesterol and improves glucose control
  • Reduces risk of atherosclerosis that is raised among people with lupus
  • Improves heart function which can be impaired by lupus

Ms. Milton also provided suggestions for the type of exercise that could benefit people with lupus.  Research shows benefit of moderate aerobic and strength exercise two-three times/week

  • Aerobic training can improve sleep, fatigue, cholesterol, heart function
  • Strength training can improve fatigue, glucose control, physical strength, bone health, quality of life
  • Warm up should involve all the moving parts – muscles, ligaments and joints
  • Cool down over hours and days after exercise helps body recover — flushes waste products from the blood, repairs tissues

*Always consult with your own physician before starting any exercise plan


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