Saturday, September 27, 2014

Lupus Awareness: The Benefits of Exercise

October is Lupus Awareness Month 

What is lupus?

To be honest, I was not very informed with this disease. I had not know anyone suffering. Then one day, someone I knew was diagnosed. I wanted to learn as much as I could, especially after I became a health & fitness coach. I wanted to see if there was something I could offer. Knowledge, help, just a shoulder.

Lupus is a chronic, autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body (skin, joints, and/or organs inside the body). Chronic means that the signs and symptoms tend to last longer than six weeks and often for many years.

In lupus, something goes wrong with your immune system, which is the part of the body that fights
off viruses, bacteria, and germs. Normally our immune system produces proteins called antibodies that protect the body from these invaders. Autoimmune means your immune system cannot tell the difference between these foreign invaders and your body’s healthy tissues ("auto" means "self") and creates autoantibodies that attack and destroy healthy tissue. These autoantibodies cause inflammation, pain, and damage in various parts of the body. I could not even begin to imagine what this does to a person! This ongoing battle inside your body, one day you feel good and another you don't. It flares up, then remissions - you will never know what kind of day you are going to have.

These are some additional facts about lupus that you should know: (as per
  • Lupus is not contagious, not even through sexual contact. You cannot "catch" lupus from someone or "give" lupus to someone.
  • Lupus is not like or related to cancer. Cancer is a condition of malignant, abnormal tissues that grow rapidly and spread into surrounding tissues. Lupus is an autoimmune disease, as described above.
  • Lupus is not like or related to HIV (Human Immune Deficiency Virus) or AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). In HIV or AIDS the immune system is underactive; in lupus, the immune system is overactive.
  • Lupus can range from mild to life-threatening and should always be treated by a doctor. With good medical care, most people with lupus can lead a full life.
  • Our research estimates that at least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. The actual number may be higher; however, there have been no large-scale studies to show the actual number of people in the U.S. living with lupus.
  • More than 16,000 new cases of lupus are reported annually across the country.
  • It is believed that 5 million people throughout the world have a form of lupus.
  • Lupus strikes mostly women of childbearing age (15-44). However, men, children, and teenagers develop lupus, too. Most people will develop lupus between the ages of 15-44.
  • Women of color are two to three times more likely to develop lupus than Caucasians.
  • People of all races and ethnic groups can develop lupus.
Exercise can improve your quality of life when you have lupus by helping to prevent fatigue. But be aware of your limitations and how exercise may specifically affect your condition.

Studies show that physical exercise can lower the risk of heart disease in lupus patients and is also beneficial in decreasing the risk of osteoporosis. Exercise can also be helpful in managing fatigue and pain and improving overall quality of life for people with lupus.

How does it help? 

Fatigue: "Being physically active helps prevent fatigue, a major symptom of lupus," says Amita Bishnoi, MD, a rheumatologist who treats lupus patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. Studies have shown that lupus patients who participate in an aerobic exercise program are able to reduce their level of fatigue and have more energy throughout the day.
Cardiovascular benefits: Heart disease is the leading cause of death for people with lupus. If you have lupus, you're at risk of getting heart disease up to 20 years sooner than the general population. Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise like walking or biking, can decrease your risk of heart disease.
Obesity: Obesity is a common problem in people with lupus. Obesity can increase your level of pain, put more strain on inflamed joints, increase your risk of heart disease, and make your fatigue worse.
Osteoporosis: Women with lupus are especially vulnerable to osteoporosis. Loss of bone mass has been reported to be as high as 46 percent in these patients. Weight-bearing physical exercise is an important part of osteoporosis prevention.
Sleep disturbances: People with lupus have more problems sleeping than the general population. This can add to lupus fatigue and stress. Many studies show that aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to improve sleep.
Quality of life: Because lupus is a chronic and unpredictable disease, it can produce stress and anxiety. Aerobic exercise has been found to reduce depression in people with lupus and improve their overall sense of well-being.

Taking Care of You - Needs to be a Priority

A. Choose low-impact activities that won't put pressure on your joints. Low-impact exercises include:
  1. walking
  2. rowing
  3. bicycling
  4. swimming
  5. Pilates
  6. yoga

B. Eat a Healthy Diet

Although there is no specific diet for lupus, eating nutritious, well-balanced meals can help manage some of the symptoms of lupus. Consider these diet tips when planning your healthy meals:
  1. Fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, moderate amounts of meats, poultry, and oily fish have been found to help reduce inflammation.
  2. Calcium supplements and calcium-rich foods like dark green, leafy vegetables milk, cheese, and yogurt combat osteoporosis and promote bone health.
  3. Reduce fluid retention and swelling by cutting back on salt and avoiding processed foods.
  4. Keep a food diary to identify foods that aggravates your symptoms, and cut back or remove them from your diet.

It's never too late to adopt a healthy lifestyle

Making healthy lifestyle choices has benefits at any age. Being more active, eating a balanced diet and becoming more aware of your health can be physically and mentally rewarding at any point in life.

So in honor of those who struggle, fight daily, in honor of those who stay strong everyday - Any Challenge Pack (fitness program of your choice & 30 day supply of Shakeology) purchased 10/6/14 - 10/31/14 through me and my website as your FREE Beachbody Coach - a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to Lupus.Org to continue the research and the fight against this autoimmune disease. When you order, just send me a message "Lupus Warrior" at or on Facebook "Kristin Palapoli Nicolellis" - so the donation can be made. 

My next Challenge & Accountability Group will be starting October 20th. Reserve your spot early!!

Click Here for your FREE Beachbody account

Click Here to fill out the Challenge Group Application