Exercise and Autoimmune Disease

If you have an autoimmune disease you know that doing what is a “normal” amount of exercise for some people can truly be a challenge. That is never a reason to throw in the towel, though, as the benefits of exercise highly outweigh the risks. The key to exercising with an autoimmune disease is to learn to let go of your ego and comparison to “past you” or anyone else, and to also be really in tune with your body, so that you can give it what it needs to function at it’s best and not have any flare ups. It’s also important to never assume that because something works for one autoimmune person that it is going to work for another. Internal self reflection and bodily awareness is something that all autoimmune disease suffers should strive to achieve.

The key to balancing autoimmune disease and exercise is being aware and in control of external stressors that may be responsible for inflammation in the body. The inflammation is what causes the flare ups. This inflammation can come from not getting enough sleep, to eating foods that cause it, to mental stress, to an excess of exercise beyond what your body is willing to handle  – causing physical stress. Due to this, recovery time is very important for those with autoimmune disease. It’s also important to note that doing a lot of long exercise sessions or multiple high intensity training sessions per week may not be a beneficial avenue to take.

For example, say that you are following a fitness program that is designed to be 90 days long. If you follow the workout calendar as designed, perhaps you are only getting one rest day per week… perhaps not even that. Perhaps the “rest day” is an “active rest day” and still contains yoga or pilates. If you are prone to flare ups, it’s possible that keeping this schedule will catch up to you and cause a flare up in a week or two. That flare up could last anywhere from one to four weeks.

This blog is me giving you permission to open that schedule up a bit. If the workout calendar says that it’s 6-7 days per week, you can make it 4-5 days per week instead and have extra rest days so as not to over stress your body or your adrenal glands. IT IS OK TO DO THIS. There is no rule that says you HAVE to do back & biceps on Wednesdays only, and that every workout calendar must run Mon-Sun. Perhaps back & biceps falls on Wednesday this week, but Friday next week because of an extra rest day or two. Still follow the workout schedule chronologically as designed for proper muscular balance, but throw in those extra rest days where needed.

Doing this doesn’t make you a failure. Doing this doesn’t make other people “better” than you because they aren’t (and may not have to) do this. Doing this is you being smart with your body and taking the actions that you need to take so that you don’t have major flare ups and crashes on the regular. Trust me, it’s worth it. Nobody enjoys living life through a dense mental fog and chronic pain and inflammation.

If you are working with a trainer, be ready to say, “no” from time to time OR to make sure to let them know how many rest days you need per week. A good trainer will listen and adapt with you. If they don’t, find a trainer who understands. If you attend a group fitness class that has a lot of high intensity exercises, it’s ok to tell the instructor ahead of time that you may be utilizing modifications – heck, it’s ok to speak to them before class so that you can be assured that these modifications will be offered during class for you to take advantage of.

There is no shame in doing what is right for your body. It’s YOUR body. You get to make these choices. Let’s make our bodies work well for us instead of constantly forcing them to live in a place of stress abundance.

  • Find Melanie Online

  • Recent Posts

  • Recommended Links

  • 645 Available Now!

  • Save an additional $20 off packages in October!

    Challenge Pack with Shakeology

    Challenge Pack with Beachbody Performance

  • Frollie’s Fitness Follies

  • Follow Frollie, the calico colored Panda, on his journey to lose weight and get healthy in this adorable web comic!