Study Suggests Exercise May Be a Powerful Therapy for Lupus
In a recent study, researchers examined the role of exercise as a non-pharmacological therapy (therapies that do not involve drugs) for lupus management. They found that exercise positively impacts and shapes the body’s immune response and health, and should be personalized for best results. In addition, exercise also improves cardiorespiratory fitness and musculoskeletal strength which are usually weakened by lupus.
Previous studies have found that a person’s interferon (IFN) gene signature can trigger lupus disease development and progression. However, researchers have never focused on looking at exercise as a potential treatment to target immune response and IFN signature production. Researchers found that exercise decreases the levels of cytokines (small proteins that regulate inflammation in the body) related to IFN signature. Exercise safely limited autoimmune over-reaction in people with lupus, thereby boosting their aerobic fitness and physical energy, minimizing disease flare activity, helping to reduce symptoms such as pain, and can potentially be an effective non-pharmacologic therapy in lupus.
Currently, exercise is not normally included in care plans or in industry treatment guidelines, such as the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR) recommendations. Researchers also encourage personalized exercise care plans in routine lupus care.
Further research is needed to understand exercise benefits in lupus, and education is needed for those who may interact with people with lupus on exercise therapy. Talk with your doctor about exercise as part of your treatment plan and options that might be best for you. Learn more about staying active when you have lupus.
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