I have heard two sides to this story in terms of it was a good idea to exercise or not, so it is kind of a confusing topic. Both Dr J and Dr S don’t recommend vigorous exercising on treatment.
That hasn’t been too hard for me as I still can’t even be on my feet or walking without holding something for very long. I can manage to vacuum ( I have two 5×7 rugs in my house…that’s it) and most days be on my feet enough to cook light dinners, walk into the bank, walk to my mailbox. That is really about it. And that is not excercising. If I try to do more, I usually end up having a seizure of sorts, so not really worth it at the moment.
On the other hand, some say exercise is a necessary part to healing. So which is it? I will present both theories possibly bring some light to the subject. I personally feel that there is likely a good balance between both theories. I will also share recommendations as to how to go about getting exercise when you are at that point of treatment and doing it the right way.
The benefits to getting exercise when going through treatment:
1) It can raise core body temperature. Lyme does not like heat. Your body can reach temperatures as high as 102 degrees while working out, which helps eradicate those little buggers.
2) Exercise is a good way to detox. It helps make the heart muscles strong and increase oxygen throughout the body. Lyme doesn’t like oxygen. Your lymphatic system will work much better and help remove the toxins throughout your body.
3) Some research I have done said that patients will not return to normal without regular exercise as you need it to help keep your immune system in check.
4) Your body and muscles are meant to be used. With a long time spent on the couch, you need to start a regimen to get your muscles working again as you lose muscle mass.
5) Non aerobic conditioning can help reverse the negative effects on the heart, lungs and circulation.
6) When you are at the point you are ready to really exercise, specifically whole body conditioning programs, symptoms of Lyme in several patients seem to go away. Definitely not recommended until you are at that point.
The cons of exercise include:
1) A lot of us simply cannot exercise. Even if you get to the point of having the mental energy and stamina, your body might be telling you something different. If you are physically ailing, it is just plain common sense that putting more strain on that part of your body is just going to aggravate it more. Many force it and make themselves worse than they need to be.
2) Detox can lead to herxing… there is a fine line. Yes, exercise is a way to detox. But exercise can also bring on unnecessary herx reactions. Working out raises your body temperature, killing spirochetes, but many of those spirochetes are not releases, causing a herx.
3) Symptoms can flare up during exercise. I know this is true for myself. If I even walk to too far in a parking lot, I get my shooting pains and achy fibro pain I know all too well. Boy… it’s sure gonna be fun when I am ready to jump back in and exercise!
4) Exercise, especially aerobic or more vigorous exercise can tear ligaments, causes an inflammatory response, and allows more spirochetes enter the brain. Who wants that during treatment?
5) Too much or too fast exercise can deplete adrenals and decrease T -cells in your body. These are necessary to destroy invading bacteria, so by overdoing it, you are allowing both your adrenals and your T-cells that are suppose to be fighting for you not work the way they should.
6) Fatigue is your body’s way of telling you that it has some unfinished business with an invader (Lyme). Your body can’t exercise properly or effectively if it is focusing it’s energy and attention on the demand placed by physical exercise. You will know if it feels like you really shouldn’t be doing it. Being tired from working out feels much different than feeling tired from sitting, while your body is fighting hard to get rid of the little buggers. Listen to your body.
So, safe to say there are pros and cons to each exercising and not exercising. I think the most important thing is to know when you are ready to take that step, and do not overdo it! I found several recommendations as to how to go about starting an exercise regimen the RIGHT way.
Don’t do this:
The most important thing here is to go SLOW, and know your limits. It is also recommended that you undergo a cardiac stress test to ensure your safety before starting any excercise, and if possible join a program by a trained and certified professional.
Dr. Burrascano recommends all Lyme patients to go through a formal rehabilitation program. This involves starting with very simple physical therapy modalities, leading to stretching and mobility, then supervised strength training exercises. This should all involve heat massage, heat packs and pads, and simple exercises that help relieve discomfort and increase flexibility.
Don’t overdo it when you first begin your workout regimen, even if it is very simple such as stretch and mobility exercises. Your T -cells in your body need 12 to 24 hours to recuperate after exercise. It is important to drink LOTS of water and try to get sleep. You might need 3 to 5 days of rest between exercise until your stamina begins to improve. For some people, all they will be capable of doing is 5 minutes a day to start. Everyone is different.
Sometimes it takes 12 to 18 months to reach your target. But, don’t get discouraged. A simple walking program will not work either. Especially if you have been immobile for a long time. You need to get your core muscles working again.
They do not recommend aerobics until you have more stamina as it will do more harm than good until you are ready. It depresses your T cell function much more, which is not good for someone immunosuppressed by chronic disease. Baby steps. You will be getting back to your Richard Simmons videos before you know it 😉
Great ways to start are low impact. Starting with a trained and certified physical therapist is a good idea, at least to start, and great things to do when you are getting a little better at doing an exercise regimen include light weights, resistance bands, and light conditioning programs (body sculpting).
Tai Chi, gentle yoga, and many eastern body-mind-spirited exercises are very beneficial. I took a restorative rieki class before all of this, during my “Fibro days”, and thought it was really interesting and maybe it helped, maybe it didn’t, but I felt much more relaxed and I definitely stretched things I haven’t in a long time!
Make sure you warm up and down very gradually to minimize your risk of injury. Take a hot shower or bath after each workout. If possible, try to nap for an hour or two after each workout.
I have wondered since treatment if I made myself worse or the state that I am in because I frequently was taking classes at the gym, busting my butt doing weight lifting and strength training, going for light jogs with my dog, running around waitressing, swimming, dancing… maybe the excessive exercise was the tip of the iceberg, or maybe my “go go go” attitude is what did me in.
Either way, I wore myself out and my body said when. There is no way of knowing for sure, but I am going to TRY to take it easy and slow once I start to feel better and am more functional, and I know I will likely need help in the process to get my body back to where it use to be as I’ve already spent a year hanging out with my couch. I am looking forward to that moment, as that will mean I am just one step closer to getting my life back and that wonderful word that we all love to hear, “remission”.
http://drrajpatel.net/index.php/lymediseasem/exerciseandlymediseasem, http://www.tiredoflyme.com/exercise.html#.UiqVNhYTt1M, http://www.lymeneteurope.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=82, http://www.truthaboutlymedisease.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=1930, http://www.lyme-disease-research-database.com/lyme_disease_blog_files/lyme-disease-and-exercise.html, http://mylyme.org/exercise.html Photo Cred: http://formerfatdudes.com, http://www.superskinnyme.com