May. 07, 2018

Sharing the Journey: Low-Impact Movements

The Sharing the Journey series is by people like you and for you. In their own words, we highlight the perspectives and personal experiences of people who struggle with lupus each day.

This month, we asked Sharing the Journey participants the following question:

What types of low-impact movements or physical activity is part of your routine to help you manage lupus?

I love this time of year when the weather starts to get warm and I can get outside. Of course I have to be super careful of the sun and wear sunscreen and hats always! I have been lucky to be able to continue with my physical fitness. I have found that over the years I have to be forgiving to my body. Some days I can really workout hard and nothing bothers me, and other days I feel sore or too tired. I used to beat myself up about it, but finally realized that I need to just embrace the good days when they happen and not get down on myself when I need the rest. For me the bike is the best option, it is gentle on the knees and not jarring, so this is my main workout. I also do some light weight lifting to keep my bones healthy. Having exercise as a normal part of my life has helped so much, not just physically, but mentally too. I feel so much better about myself when I get my body moving!! – Roxi

For me, walking is my consistent activity. I have previously done kickboxing, but due to injuries, I prefer walking. I also feel that in maintaining a walking routine, I do not get as set back from not being able to do higher impact activities. – Leslie

I am a firm believer in workouts that utilize nothing but body weight to build muscle. I rarely utilize weights or any type of machine when working out because they pose a higher risk of injury and often fatigue my body to an unhealthy level. I am a big fan of Pilates for building core strength. There are so many exercises you can do using only a mat that can help you get stronger abs! I also love yoga because it encourages flexibility alongside strength. However, my favorite form of exercise is dance. Ballet is terrific for building muscle strength (especially for the legs) and tap and jazz are terrific for building cardio strength. Dance is such a wonderful form of exercise because you can have fun while you are working out. I love it because I'm not just strengthening my muscles to make them look better, but I am actually making my body look beautiful while doing it. – Becca

I rarely miss a day of walking and that is anywhere from a mile and a half upwards to a total of five miles total in a day. I try to have at least some of this in nature. I currently live near a trail that takes me by a local river and I get to see various birds as well as trees and shrubs in their various stages of coming forth into growth. I also do various spiritual practices and prayers as I walk which gives some meaning in addition to the physical exercise. I used to have high blood pressure which is gone. My original flare damaged several heart valves which have been fully restored and some of this has been due to exercise. I also lift weights six days a week alternating core and legs with upper body. Due to use of so much prednisone in my twenties, I have developed osteoporosis in my mid-sixties so strength as well as weight bearing exercise is one way to work with that which is helpful. It is also helpful for epilepsy which came from a later lupus flare which I am working on healing at this time. – Betsy

I walk a lot. As a teacher I spend most days on my feet and this helps me to keep active, but it can aggravate my joint pain. I also love to spend time in the pool during these warmer months. Swimming is something that I have always enjoyed and now with my lupus, the water helps me to be active without the joint and muscle pain.Michelle

Since I'm currently a full time law student and work part time I don't get as much physical activity as I should. However, I have found that walking my dogs each morning does wonders for my morning stiffness. If it wasn't for having to walk them, I probably wouldn't move around as much, and the stiffness would last longer. When it's warm I love to do water aerobics - which is low-impact, relaxing, and strengthening.Kayla

Benefits of physical activity

If you have pain or are feeling fatigued, being active is likely the last thing on your mind. However, low impact movements and other physical activities can improve some lupus symptoms and have mental, physical and social benefits. Low impact movements that are less stressful on your body can help strengthen muscles to prevent joint weakening and damage. Your physician or specialist can help identify a routine that will work best for you.

Find out more about how low-impact movements can help manage your lupus symptoms and the benefits of staying active. And, if you’re looking for a way to get moving, find a Walk to End Lupus Now® event in your area or make your steps count as a virtual walker.