I recently read a spirited rant from another lupus blogger about all the mindless things people say and suggest to lupus patients, such as suggesting that enough exercise will “cure” lupus. There is no secret cure for lupus! Yet, many well-meaning people persist in propagating myths about supposed miracle cures. While some patients do go into full and lasting remission, they still have lupus, able to flare and become active again, without notice or clear cause.
Lupus still remains unpredictable and incurable. Perhaps some day that will change, but for now, that is still the truth about lupus.
If a real lupus cure were suddenly discovered, it would be sensational news!
We would read about it on the front cover of Lupus Now, Arthritis Today, JAMA, Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report, CNN and Fox News, and the good news about it would go viral on the Internet.
The leading rheumatologists and research doctors would be interviewed on national television news and as guests on major television and radio talk shows.
The doctor who finds a cure for lupus will become a household name and might even win the Nobel Peace Prize in Medicine.
A real lupus cure would not stay a secret for long!
Reading the other blogger’s rant made me think about exercise, and some of the reasons I do it. Although a moderate amount of careful exercise benefits lupus patients, it certainly is no cure! However, the right kind and amount can help a lupus patient be a healthier and stronger, and that is a great thing. I feel better when I exercise, like anyone else with lupus or without it would. Exercise is always an important part of a healthy lifestyle for any person, including lupus patients.
A lupus patient needs to be careful not to overdo exercise beyond the level safe for the current state of their medical condition. Sore, painful joints and inflammation are red flags to take it easy, or to postpone exercise if symptoms are flaring too much. Then, when the lupus flare subsides, the exercise can resume or go back to normal levels.
It seems harder to accept a suggestion to exercise from someone who doesn’t have lupus or a similar auto-immune illness. It is easier to accept the recommendation if the advice come from another lupus patient who actually exercises. Another patient can tell me how exercise it helps them. Another lupus patient can understand why it is so hard for me to want to think about exercising if every joint hurts. They also know why when the thought of moving seems like it will take herculean effort, how lupus joint pain and fatigue are counter-intuitive to the idea of movement and exercise. It is so hard to imagine when it hurts to move, that getting up and moving more will make it hurt less.
The suggestion to exercise is much harder to accept from someone else (other than my rheumatologist) who thinks they know exactly what will improve my lupus, or worse yet, who thinks their suggestion to exercise, (take a supplement, wear some special metal jewelry, or some other thing) will actually cure my lupus.
I don’t necessarily want to hear these people’s ideas of what they think I just “need to do to get well.” I want all my serious treatment advisers to have medical degrees!
However, there are some very important reasons why I exercise two to three times each week:
- My rheumatologist recommends it, and I respect his advice
- It will help me fight osteoporosis caused by steroids
- It strengthens my muscles and improves my circulation and tendon health
- It helps reduce my risk of heart problems that are higher in lupus patients
- It increases my oxygen exchange, strengthens my lungs and helps my asthma
- It is good for my digestion
- It strengthens my spine and reduces the frequency of chiropractor visits for three herniated cervical disks
- It also helps morning lupus brain fog clear up more quickly as increased circulation stirs up my body’s metabolism.
- It raises endorphin levels that naturally elevate my emotions/mood and reduces my perception of pain.
- It helps me fight weight gain from an increased appetite from steroids.
I get my most of my exercise on an indoor cycle with a fluid trainer, and when I have access to an indoor pool, I have really enjoyed swimming. I also do some gentle yoga exercises to improve my spine and joint health.
Even though there are plenty of people out there with some crazy ideas about how to magically cure lupus, there are some real things we can do to improve our lupus outcomes.
Exercise is something we can definitely do that may improve how we feel, at least a little.