My Struggle With Exercise and Autoimmunity


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14 thoughts on “My Struggle With Exercise and Autoimmunity

  1. Unfortunately, my experience with exercise and chronic illness (APS and Sjogren’s) is that they’re almost totally incompatible. Like you, I decided to try and do at least a little stretching and toning every day. Maybe just a couple of minutes – if that’s all my body can tolerate, I have to accept that. Inevitably though, the minute I start, something gets in the way. Either I’m busy with other things – don’t have time, or just plain forget. Or, most often, I suffer a minor (or not so minor!) setback and HAVE to stop. So it’s constantly back to square one again. And walking, I’m afraid, just bores me to death! Swimming’s w-a-y too much trouble – all that changing and drying! It’s a challenge! One I haven’t yet conquered.

    • Hey Judy-
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I hope you can find a solution that works for you, or you may need to just not worry about it. Have you tried meditation? When I was physically at my worst, that was the only form of “exercise” I was capable of – just breathing. It helped me through some rough times, but I know it isn’t for everyone 🙂 Take care!

  2. I am trying really hard to honor how my body is feeling. If I am too tired, I respect that feeling. Like you, I was active and fit before the “big crash” and so it is hard to feel like you’re being idle. But I go for short walks and do some yoga when I feel up to it. I know eventually I will be able to add-on, but for now I am working on being kind to myself.

    • Hey Amy-
      I like your style. Keep listening and collaborating with your body instead of forcing it to do something exhausting. 🙂

  3. I am proud to say that I have never been inclined to push myself. 🙂 I was an athlete in middle school (soccer, basketball, track) and gave it all up in high school when my symptoms began to appear and I got hooked on much-less-exhausting theater instead. For years, I made myself do yoga knowing that it was supposed to be good for all kinds of health problems… but I never liked it and during teacher training last year, I realized that during yoga was the only time I ever got neuropathy and nausea anymore, so I quit and have never looked back. I did work a manual-labor night-shift job last year at an animal shelter and I credit that with my adrenal fatigue nowadays. I walk a little now and then, not as often as I’d like, and I am working on setting up a treadmill computer desk now that it’s too cold and rainy outside… and now that I’m spending so much time on the computer writing and researching anyway. Even cleaning the bathtub gets my heart rate up too high so clearly, I still have some adrenal issues that need addressed before I push myself too much. All of this is another good example of how commonly-touted healthy habits… aren’t really that healthy for a lot of people! ❤

    • Christina-
      I don’t know of anything that will cause the adrenals to suffer more than nighshifts! It has been years since I had to wake up in the middle of the night to open the coffee shop, but my body is STILL on that schedule (I wake at 5AM no matter the season or how fatigued I am). Of course, the six cups of coffee a day that I drank in those days sure weren’t helping… if only we knew then what we do now, right?

  4. I can definitely relate. Prior to developing my own autoimmune condition, I was a massage therapist who often helped people with AI recover from medically prescribed exercise programs. It would be so frustrating for them to flare after exercise while simultaneously being told they needed to exercise to regain their health. So, I’ve seen this effect for years, and only recently experienced it myself. When my Rheumatoid Arthritis was at its peak, I couldn’t even stretch gently, because I would flare the next day. At that point deep breathing, meditation and what I call “chair dancing” were all I could do (sitting in my lazy girl chair, listening to groovy music, and just moving my body gently to the beat.) Now I still do deep breathing and meditation, but I can also use the exercise bike and do some gentle yoga. However, I’m limiting myself to 15 minutes of each, because I don’t want to overdo. I miss hiking, kayaking and strength training and hope someday to do all of those again and more, but I know if I tried any of those right now, they’d set me back. Coming to peace with where I am each day has been essential for me – being gentle with myself not only physically, but in terms of my expectations.

    • Eileen,
      I love your idea of “chair dancing” – I could have used some of that in my darker moments. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Since being diagnosed with AI diseases 16+ years ago I’ve been able to exercise or not depending on whether or not I’m in remission. When I’m sick, I’m too tired and too sore to do more than try my best to make it through the day.

    Since starting the AI protocol 6 months ago, I’m off all meds, sleeping better and – best of all – exercising again (which I LOVE). I was able to start back to the gym and doing CrossFit about 2 months ago. Now I go 5x per week. I am so excited to feel good enough to not only do what I need to do but do what I want as well.

    • Wow, crossfit! Honestly I have had fleeting aspirations to do something that intense, but I usually stop myself from thinking that is in my future. Congrats on your success with the AI protocol – its amazing what food can do for us, right?

      • Thanks Mickey! You can absolutely do CrossFit! The beauty of it is you do what *you* can do. My class has a number of people with physical disabilities from injuries or surgeries or age…. They tailor every class where needed to address them all!

  6. Great post, I can completely relate. I am a runner and i’m pretty sure that’s what got me into this mess I am in. I quit cardio 9 days ago. I am now just doing yoga and walking, with a little bit of weight lifting.

    I want to eventually get back to running. I coach in the spring and summer and I don’t want to give that up!

  7. I keep joining gyms, but prefer to just walk. I love yoga, especially with a gong meditation at the end. Thanks for your post, now I don’t feel guilty for NOT rejoining the gym. I do have a treadmill at my house, and some weights… but I prefer yoga.

  8. I’ve tended to increase exercise in spurts and then end up sicker and with less energy. I push too hard sometimes. I’ve made myself all red and whoozy trying to jog. In the hot summer, forget about it. I’ve decided jogging isn’t for me anymore. I like gentle yoga and walking. I would like to build my strength.

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