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5 Tips to Get Started Exercising

People with lupus should plan their exercise program carefully, with medical advice. Exercise is good for you, but unsupervised exercise or too much exercise, too fast, can harm your health. Follow these five tips to exercise safely.

  • Talk to Your Doctor. Each lupus patient tolerates physical activity differently. Talk to your doctor before beginning any exercise plan. She can work with you in determining the best type of exercise, the right intensity, and realistic goals based on your condition.
  • Take it Slow and Steady. Don’t start with an extreme exercise routine, only to burn out quickly. Because exercise can help you manage lupus symptoms, start slowly and increase your level of intensity when it feels right. You’ll feel more benefits by exercising regularly at a lower intensity than you will if you exercise only occasionally at a high level of intensity. Keep a steady pace and remember to rest between sessions. If you burn out or give up on exercise entirely, you might feel even more joint and muscle weakness.  
  • Make a Low Impact. Take part in intense physical activities such as jogging, weight lifting, or high-impact aerobics only with your doctor’s permission. In general, people with lupus get the most and longest-lasting benefits from low-impact exercises such as swimming, walking, yoga, or stretching.
  • Keep an Exercise Journal. Exercise journals have multiple benefits. Use a journal to set goals and track your progress. Seeing your abilities increase over time can be really encouraging. Keeping a journal can also help you decide what kinds of exercise work best for you. Note how you feel, physically and emotionally, after you work out. Write in your journal even on days when you don’t want to exercise or don’t feel well. The journal can help you and your doctor see patterns in your symptoms and physical abilities.
  • Buddy Up. Exercising with someone else can add a lot of fun to an activity you might otherwise find boring or difficult. Make sure to exercise with someone who understands your limitations and goals, and who will encourage you on your tough days. Exercise partners can also inspire you to exercise when you don’t feel like it. Another way to stay motivated is to join a class such as aquatics, tai chi, or yoga. Attending a class offers a community environment where you can make new friends and make progress with the support of other participants.

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