(BlackDoctor.org) — If you have systemic lupus, one of the best things you can do to manage the disease is to become as physically fit as possible.
Studies show that physical exercise can lower the risk of heart disease in lupus patients and is also beneficial in decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. Exercise can also be helpful in managing fatigue and pain and improving overall quality of life for people with lupus.
How Does Exercise Help Lupus Patients?
Here are a few ways that exercise can benefit people with lupus:
- Fatigue. Being physically active helps prevent fatigue, a major symptom of lupus. Studies have shown that lupus patients who participate in an aerobic exercise program are able to reduce their level of fatigue and have more energy throughout the day.
- Cardiovascular benefits. Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with lupus. If you have lupus, you’re at risk of getting heart disease up to 20 years sooner than the general population. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise like walking or biking, can decrease your risk of heart disease.
- Obesity. Obesity is a common problem in people with lupus. Obesity can increase your level of pain, put more strain on inflamed joints, increase your risk of heart disease, and make your fatigue worse.
- Osteoporosis. Women with lupus are especially vulnerable to osteoporosis. Loss of bone mass has been reported to be as high as 46 percent in these patients. Weight-bearing physical exercise is an important part of osteoporosis prevention.
- Sleep disturbances. People with lupus have more problems sleeping than the general population. This can add to lupus fatigue and stress. Many studies show that aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to improve sleep.
- Quality of life. Because lupus is a chronic and unpredictable disease, it can produce stress and anxiety. Aerobic exercise has been found to reduce depression in people with lupus and improve their overall sense of well-being.
What Kinds of Exercise Work Best?
Exercise regimens that focus on muscle strengthening and improving endurance are best. Some examples are swimming, walking, low impact aerobics, and bicycling.