Fibromyalgia, Lupus & Exercise

Women's Health |

Q.I am 49 and have had fibromyalgia and lupus for two years. It is getting harder to exercise because of the pain. Could you recommend a book on some good stretching exercises that would be helpful for me? Would an air-walker be a good exercise machine to invest in?

Mary Ellen

A.So many women are coping with these conditions — you can’t imagine the number of questions I get on exactly this. If it’s any comfort, you’re not alone, and many good researchers are looking hard at these two ailments, which have some similar features.

A.First of all, it’s just too darn difficult to exercise during a flare-up of either one, so you have to be the best judge of when you can maneuver with minimal discomfort — and then make sure you pursue a good head-to-toe stretching and strengthening program.

I’m not a big pusher of aerobic routines for people with these conditions. I know, I know … we’ve all been badgered to death with the idea that you absolutely need to do your aerobics three days a week, 45 minutes a session, and so on. But I find that fibromyalgia and lupus are diseases that ask people to stop and alter their course dramatically — and these diseases usually plague folks who’ve been running in many directions at once. I’m convinced that aerobic activity will eventually slip back into your life. Right now, I’m interested in seeing you put a different emphasis on the more subtle, stiller aspects of fitness. It takes retooling the mind as well as the body.

That’s why I like stretching and strengthening routines that you do on the floor, slowly and mindfully. I tend to put those two together — stretching and strengthening — because I want you to take advantage of those flexible, easier times and get the most out of each minute.

On good days, go through the beginning chapters of a book called The Supple Body: The Way to Strength, Fitness and Flexibility, by Sara Black, Antonia Deutsch, and Liliana Djurovic. This has some of the most comprehensive stretching and strengthening I’ve ever seen. Play some beautiful soothing music while you do the routines. It’s crucial to have your mind, body and spirit inseparable and focused while you move. Enjoy your time.

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