Exercise is important for your body to keep your muscles, bones, and joints flexible. However, there are certain limitations to the exercises you can perform if you have an autoimmune condition.
If you have an autoimmune health condition, it means that your body is fighting with yourself. An autoimmune disease attacks the healthy cells in your body bringing down your immune system. The causes for these conditions are not clear; however, you need to battle them out by eating healthy and staying physically active.
All exercises may not be suitable for all, especially those with a health condition. Therefore, it is important to do the right exercises that suit your body. Let’s examine a few common autoimmune conditions and the exercises best suited for the respective individuals.
1. Exercises For Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is a serious autoimmune disease that causes pain in different parts of the body due to the inflammation in the joints. The pain and fatigue take over your body and any physical activity seems impossible for you. However, research has shown that exercise can improve the condition.1 Here is a list of exercises that can help rheumatoid arthritis patients. Speak to your doctor if you can perform these exercises before you begin them.2
- Stretching: Stretching can reduce the stiffness and improve flexibility. Start with a 3–5 minute warm like marching in one place. Afterward, stretch your joints and muscles and hold them for 10 to 20 seconds before releasing.
- Walking: This is the safest and the least risky exercise. It is great for your joints, heart, and mood. Start with short distances and a slow pace. Increase the distance and speed according to your convenience.
- Yoga: Yoga exercises usually make your body flexible and helps to balance yourself, both physically and mentally. Make sure to practice them under the guidance of a yoga instructor to know the right breathing and posture.
- Aquatic Exercises: Exercises in water are perfect for those suffering from painful joints. This is because water helps support your weight, putting less pressure on the joints. Water also provides resistance so you can also experience an aerobic and strengthening workout.
2. Exercises For Multiple Sclerosis
In multiple sclerosis (MS), the central nervous system is affected. The normal flow of information to and from the brain is disrupted. Therefore, MS patients may feel tired soon or may even have an impact on their moods. The following exercises can help with the specific symptoms that MS patients face. It is even better to consult a physiotherapist and know what kind of exercises can improve your condition. 3
- Walking: Some outdoor walking and aerobics can improve the balance and walking. The time and distance depend on the severity of your condition.
- Physiotherapy With Stretches: For muscle spasms and stiffness, stretching exercises can do the job. In addition, yoga may also improve flexibility and reduce muscle stiffness.
- Pelvic Floor Exercises: If you face issues with bladder control, pelvic floor exercises with a trainer may help with incontinence and regular bowel movements.
- Gardening: Gardening is a good exercise and mood lifter if you want to be physically active in the comfort of your home. Weeding, digging, and mowing the lawn are some activities involved in gardening.
3. Exercises For Crohn’s Disease
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes an inflammation in your digestive tract. In addition to your diet, you may also find that your symptoms can be eased with the appropriate exercises. Exercise has the potential to improve the condition of certain patients.4
- Moderate Aerobic Exercises: High-intensity exercises can leave you feeling drained and tired soon. So, stick to moderate-intensity exercises like a half hour walk, swimming, cycling, etc.
- Resistance Training: These exercises can strengthen your muscles. Some of these include abdominal crunches, back extensions, chest presses or push-ups, squats, and lunges.
4. Exercises For Type 1 Diabetes
The most important thing to take care of when you exercise with diabetes is that you must keep a check on your glucose levels before, during, and after your workouts. Keep a check on your insulin levels – too much insulin may reduce your blood sugars while too little may cause a drastic increase.
- Combined Resistance And Aerobic Training: A combination of resistance and aerobic training may be suitable for type 1 diabetics. However, the type of exercises you do will have to be strictly trained and monitored by a trainer. Research has shown that this type of exercise routine can improve the health and overall well-being of type 1 diabetes patients.5
- Resistance Training: Sometimes, even resistance training may help. Certain resistance exercises like short sprints or even lifting some weights may be suitable for type 1 diabetes.6
These are the four most common autoimmune diseases that people may have to live with the rest of their lives. However, there are other diseases like celiac disease and others that require some form of physical activity to keep the body strong. Whatever your condition may be, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. So, the next time you workout, keep these simple tips in mind.
Exercise Tips For Those With An Autoimmune Disorder
- Don’t Push Yourself: Always remember to start a routine at your own pace. Your pace may not be as fast as the one working out next to you. So, don’t overdo anything you are not ready for. You can always pick up your pace slowly.
- Get Professional Training: It is always better to have a trainer or physiotherapist monitor and teach your exercises. They will be able to correct you if you do it wrong at the same time help you reach your fitness goals.
- Choose Low-Intensity Exercises: Low-intensity exercises like walking, cycling, stretching, etc are less stressful than high-intensity exercises. The results may be slow but you know you are not putting too much pressure on your body.
- Stick To Your Diet: It is important to follow the diet prescribed by your health professional or nutritionist.
- Write Down Your Progress: It may help to write your experiences down after a workout. You can track your progress and may even help you understand what exercise suits you best.
|↑1||Stenström, Christina H., and Marian A. Minor. “Evidence for the benefit of aerobic and strengthening exercise in rheumatoid arthritis.” Arthritis Care & Research 49, no. 3 (2003): 428-434.|
|↑2||Best Exercises for Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis Foundation.|
|↑3||Exercise. Multiple Sclerosis Society.|
|↑4||Ng, Victor, Wanda Millard, Constance Lebrun, and John Howard. “Exercise and Crohn’s disease: speculations on potential benefits.” Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology 20, no. 10 (2006): 657-660.|
|↑5||D’hooge, Roseline, Tinneke Hellinckx, Christophe Van Laethem, Sanne Stegen, Jean De Schepper, Sara Van Aken, Daniel Dewolf, and Patrick Calders. “Influence of combined aerobic and resistance training on metabolic control, cardiovascular fitness and quality of life in adolescents with type 1 diabetes: a randomized controlled trial.” Clinical Rehabilitation 25, no. 4 (2011): 349-359.|
|↑6||Yardley, Jane E., Ronald J. Sigal, Bruce A. Perkins, Michael C. Riddell, and Glen P. Kenny. “Resistance exercise in type 1 diabetes.” Canadian journal of diabetes 37, no. 6 (2013): 420-426.|