Exercise can be too much for people with autoimmune, Lyme and other chronic diseases, fibromyalgia and fatigue disorders, though. Out of my own practice, I know that. You can see that I have thyroiditis of Hashimoto, celiac disease and fibromyalgia and exercise can be a dangerous thing for people such as myself. It can make the body worse and push it to a pain flare instantly.
More than I can count, this has happened to me. I would practice, I would feel great, I would be exercising a little harder, and then I would suddenly lose my energy, feel fully wiped out, and even develop a fever sometimes. I’d feel like it was on fire and my body would be sad. It would be a struggle even to climb the stairs. All because I ran the treadmill for another 5 minutes when I felt good. Yet, because it was good for us, my doctors continued telling me to practice.
They’re right technically. Evidence has consistently shown that exercise is particularly helpful to people with autoimmune, fibromyalgia, Lyme disease and other chronic pain or fatigue disorders. Some of the demonstrated benefits include:
- Improved general physical and mental health
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Increased energy levels
- Reduced tiredness
- improved sleep
- Reduced pain
- Improved mood
- Increased or restored joint movement, even for persons with chronic arthritis such as rheumatoid arthritis
- Enhanced muscular strength and resilience, even for persons with deterioration of their muscles or joints
- General reduction in overall symptoms
So why does it leave us in so much misery for something good? And how do people fight the benefits of exercise without crashing with chronic pain?
Autoimmune Strong is an online training platform for people who are struggling with chronic pain. It was developed by Andrea Wool, who has fibromyalgia, thyroiditis, and celiac disease of Hashimoto.
Evidence has also shown that physical and mental stress can intensify the symptoms and other symptoms of an autoimmune disorder. Exercise creates high levels of cortisol, which stresses the body and may lead to an attack or inflammation of pain in the immune system. That is why (simply put) we feel awful following practice. We’ve got a flaring up, we rest and rejuvenate, and if eventually we get good back again, we go back to exercise and it all starts again. I call this the “exercise to flaring up” process.
But not all practice increases stress and cortisol. The fitness industry teaches us that training must be difficult. We have to be easy, quicker, sweat more, pushing harder, lifting heavier… and we do so at the exercise room. We don’t know we’ve done it right if we don’t work hard. Any pain, any benefit, right? No pain.
FUCH! Let’s change the workout topic. We have to do a lot of work, but not as I have just described. By breaking yourself down, you can become powerful. Exercise will, I believe, be safe and body-feeding.
Let’s break the flare-up cycle exercise. Here are my strong autoimmune steps to health recovery:
1st is Stop concentrating on weight loss
We also fail in the gym because we want to lose weight. I do not think the real health problem is excess weight, though. Excess weight is just another symptom, an out of control symptom of a body and a body in pain really is out of balance. I also encourage you to make your body healthy instead of weight loss a priority. It will be much more comfortable, I promise and the weight will be a happy side effect as the body gets into better balance.
2nd is Concentrate on preventive workout
Look at it as a way to make your body healthy rather than as a punishment for losing weight. Exercise can improve your immune system, make you sleep better, increase heart function, lower body pain and ache and increase energy and emotion for life: this has a long list of great body effects. Often, autoimmune and fibromyalgia disorders have even reduced their severity! And the right workout will improve and expand the body’s capacity to do life activities such as playing with your children and grandchildren, walking on store islands or crossing snow dead in the winter.
3rd is Out of the cardio unlimited
We were taught that it is best for us to lose weight in cardio (running, walking, elliptical machinery) etc. In addition, it raises our cortisol and inflammation and can cause an epidemic of symptoms. Therefore, you could be more effective with 20 minutes of proper strength and flexibility training, rather than wasting 45 minutes on the elliptical.
4th is Stamina over time build up
Start with the very basics of reinforcing moves and build on them over time. When you start gently and gradually increase over the course of time, your body can adapt to greater intensity.
5th Move your body all the time, every day
The best way to take care of your body is not to lie all day in the bed. Nights when you don’t exercise, gentle stretching, moisture rolling, a walk or a quick plie shot around your house, can make you feel better and get back faster.
6th is Find other solutions to your routine practice
It will help support your body when it is under stress, if you eat unprocessed food, sleep well, practice the art of relaxation and deep breathing and make time in your life for some fun and laughter.
7th is Be Kind to You
Don’t think that you don’t do enough or work hard enough. Celebrate your successes, set realistic goals and try to prevent negative self-talk. Much like your own best friend, treat yourself.
So, perhaps you’ve read this list, and you know my tips exactly. Just go for it! Go for it! Congratulations are going to be your body. However, you don’t know where you can begin, these tips are perhaps overwhelming. I encourage you to look out for Autoimmune Strong, a fibromyalgia-specific, Lyme-chronic and related workout plan. The Autoimmune Strong features online fitness videos to help you get to learn what to eat and what to avoid in order to lose weight and feel great. This involves direct strength and flexibility training and physical needs, and an auto-immune Strong Nutrition Guide.