10 Ways Exercise Can Drastically Improve Your Autoimmune Disease


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About Author: Darla Lilleberg is Flex5's co-founder and an autoimmune spokesperson. She has done nearly a decade of study on autoimmune disorders stemming from her own diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis in 2008. She is an ACSM certified personal trainer and AADP Certified Health Coach with an undying passion for helping women achieve their health and fitness related goals. (bio here

When you’ve got an autoimmune disease, there can be a tendency to avoid exercise. After all, you don’t want to inflame your condition, aggravate your joints or cause undue muscle pain. Those are all valid concerns, but they don’t necessarily mean you need to shun exercise altogether. They are simply indications that you need to work smarter versus harder and seek professional guidance while doing so.  Becoming sedentary is one of the worst things we can do for our bodies with or without an autoimmune disease.

Here are 10 compelling reasons why exercise should be part of your front line defense against autoimmune disease.

EXERCISE DRAMATICALLY IMPROVES MUSCULOSKELETAL DISEASE

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There have been 32 randomized control trials looking at the effect of exercise on pain and function of patients with osteoarthritis of the knee. 10 randomized control trials have shown that exercise can increase aerobic capacity and muscle strength in patients with rheumatoid arthritis.  So long as you doing the exercises properly and exercising through a full range of motion, regular controlled resistance exercise is one of the best things you can do to alleviate the symptoms of such inflammatory conditions as arthritis.

EXERCISE IMPROVES CIRCULATORY EFFICIENCY

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Oxygen is carried around the body by the red blood cells. With aerobic exercise, your body makes more red blood cells, so it can transport more oxygen. This causes the arteries to get bigger and stretchy, lowering your blood pressure. It also makes your nutrient delivery system through the blood far more efficient. This allows the nutrients that you are putting into your body to have a positive effect and in turn treat your autoimmune condition.

EXERCISE PREVENTS BONE LOSS

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Exercise has a dramatic effect on the skeleton. It not only helps to conserve bone mass, but also maintains muscle mass and improves balance, both of which help in the prevention of falls. Maintaining bone mass can also alleviate the symptoms of joint inflammation related conditions.

EXERCISE REVITALIZES MUSCLE CELLS

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Inflammation can lead to mitochondria deterioration. Studies have shown that circuit-style strength training can increase mitochondrial content and capacity. Mitochondrial deterioration gets worse as we age and study results have led researchers to conclude that resistance exercise can reverse specific aging factors in muscle tissue.

EXERCISE ENHANCES MENTAL HEALTH

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Regular exercise makes you feel good about yourself. It improves your mental outlook, improves self confidence, and helps to combat depression. Depression may be especially problematic for people with an autoimmune disease and there have been many studies that have shown how exercise can help a person to break free from its grip.

EXERCISE ENHANCES MENTAL HEALTH

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We all know that exercise is a great stress releaser. The reason is that it boosts the release of two key stress releasing hormones:

  • Epinephrine
  • Nor-epinephrine

These hormones help the central nervous system and the brain work properly to help manage stress. In addition, nor-epinephrine cranks up our fat burning system so that we burn calories quicker. The best way to get norepinephrine coursing through the body is by way of an intense cardio workout.

EXERCISE DECREASES PHYSICAL DISCOMFORT

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By strengthening the surrounding muscle groups, exercise has proven to be very helpful for people who have arthritis and fibromyalgia. After a few weeks of exercise, you will be moving more freely and experiencing less discomfort as you go about your daily activities.

EXERCISE HELPS TO RESIST DIABETES

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Muscle functions as the engines of the body and serves as sugar storehouses. As such, it increases insulin sensitivity and glycemic control. Resistance exercise also reduces abdominal and intra-abdominal fat, which appears to be particularly important for diabetes prevention.

EXERCISES REDUCES BODY FAT

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Excess body fat is a marker for autoimmune disease. Regular exercise, achieved through a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic training, is an effective way to burn calories and, therefore, burn off body fat.

EXERCISE BUILDS MUSCLE

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After just three months of resistance training, most people can gain 3 to 4 pounds of muscle tissue. This will make you physically stronger, allowing you to achieve functional fitness so as to perform your everyday activities more easily despite having an autoimmune disease.

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Regular exercise is one of the smartest things you can do to get on top of your autoimmune disease. As mentioned at the outset, however, it is recommended that you take a different approach to things in order to work smarter versus harder and avoid making your condition worse.  We’d love to help you on your path to wellness.  

Take control of your condition by working with Flex5 Team to create a custom holistic wellness program that will EMPOWER your take charge of your autoimmune disease and lead a happier and healthier lifestyle.

Flex5 is one-of-a-kind holistic fitness center in Uptown Charlotte that focuses on every aspect of healthy living i.e. nutrition, flexibility, strength, conditioning and spirituality.