| Article Summary:
Many things in life just aren't fair. But, life is a lot easier when we deal with what is thrown our way versus complaining and comparing ourselves to other people who may not have the challenges that we have to cope with. Autoimmune diseases such as lupus can affect your life but, bodybuilding can give you the tools you need to cope with this disease.
What Is Lupus?
An autoimmune disease occurs when the body attacks its own tissues like it would a foreign substance. Lupus is a chronic (longer than 6 months), autoimmune disease that can damage any part of the body including the skin, joints and organs.
At least 1.5 million Americans have lupus. This disease is most likely to affect women of childbearing age (15-44) but, men, children and teens can also develop lupus. Non-white women are more likely to develop lupus than white women.
Lupus can flare up at certain times and then go into remission. And, symptoms can vary in their severity from mild to life-threatening. In addition, symptoms vary widely depending on what organs are affected.
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Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Extreme fatigue
- Painful or swollen joints
- Swelling of the feet, hands, legs, area around the eyes
- Pain in the chest (pleurisy)
- Butterfly shaped rash across the cheeks and nose
- Hair loss
- Sun sensitivity
- Raynaud's phenomenon - fingers turn white and/or blue and may become numb when cold
- Mouth or nose ulcers
How Bodybuilding Can Help You Manage Lupus:
- Bodybuilders Stay Active: The Lupus Foundation recommends physical activity to help you manage lupus. Improving muscle stiffness, strength and range of motion through exercise will help you manage some of the symptoms of lupus. Walking, swimming, bicycling, low-impact aerobics, yoga, Pilates, and the elliptical machine can all keep you strong and agile without aggravating your joints.
- Bodybuilding Gives You Energy: Dealing with an autoimmune disease like lupus can sap your energy. But, continuing to focus on bodybuilding and exercise will give you energy and make you feel better. When this disease flares up you may need to alter the activities you are doing but continuing to be active is the most important thing.
- Bodybuilding Improves Your Circulation: Raynaud's can make a person's fingers and toes feel stiff. But, bodybuilding can improve your circulation and keep you toes and fingers nimble.
| What Is Raynaud's?
The autonomic nervous system regulates many of your body's functions that happen almost automatically: heart rate, blood pressure, feeling hot or cold, bladder and bowel functions, release of adrenalin, breathing, sweating, and muscle movement. Lupus can cause these nerve signals to be overactive, which can lead to a wide range of symptoms.
Raynaud's phenomenon is a condition of Autonomic Nervous System involvement caused by inflammation of nerves or blood vessels. Blood vessels in your hands and feet go into spasm and restrict blood flow, usually as a reaction to cold temperatures, with the tips of the fingers or toes turning red, white, or blue. Raynaud's can also cause pain, numbness, or tingling in fingers and/or toes. People who have Raynaud's phenomenon are advised to avoid cold conditions when possible, and may have to wear gloves or mittens when in air-conditioned surroundings.
- Bodybuilding Helps You Focus On The Positive: The symptoms of lupus can be a bit of a downer but bodybuilding will continue to make you feel good about yourself instead of focusing on aches, pain and hair loss due to lupus.
Additional Tips To Help You Manage Lupus:
- See your physician regularly and make him/her aware of any changes in your symptoms.
- Take your medications as prescribed.
- Join a lupus support group.
- Use sunscreen. People with lupus tend to be more sun-sensitive. A healthy dose of sun may lift your mood but sunscreen will help you prevent sun damage.
The Lupus Foundation has a wealth of information on their website and becoming more aware of how lupus affects you will help you manage your symptoms and decrease the stress and anxiety associated with having an autoimmune disease.
About The Author:
Marie Spano is a leading authority on translating the latest nutrition and exercise science research into real life applications. Ms. Spano has also helped Olympic athletes, NFL-bound athletes and Fortune 500 executives enhance their health and performance through sound nutrition practices. She is a regular contributor to bodybuilding.com. For more information see: www.mariespano.com.
- Lupus Foundation of America. www.lupus.org