By Carla Schick
After watching two weeks of the world’s premier athletes volleying, swimming, running and diving their way to a medal, I felt inspired by a refreshed sense of health and wellness. However, I also was reminded that for those of you who rely on immune globulin (IG) therapy to remain strong and functional, it’s not always easy to find an exercise routine that fits your physical abilities. Even though physical activity may be a challenge, practicing physical therapist Matthew David Hansen says that there are many risks associated with inactivity, including heart disease, high blood pressure, muscle wastage, osteoporosis, depression, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.
On the other hand, there are so many benefits to be had from even mild to moderate activity. The authors of an Australian research study reported that “aerobic exercise was effective, appropriate and feasible for reducing fatigue among adults with chronic autoimmune conditions.” They noted that the exercises that helped to reduce fatigue the most were low-impact aerobics, brisk walking, cycling and jogging.
Naturally, any exercise program must be designed to accommodate patients individually based on specific issues and the management of each diagnosis.
Hansen provides the following recommendations that can be applied to most circumstances.
- Try out different types of exercises to see which one is right for you. It’s important that you find an activity that you enjoy, because if you like doing it, very likely you will keep doing it.
- Your tolerance for exercise may change each day. Just do what you can, and if you feel like there’s positively no way that you can exercise on any given day: don’t. After all, the goal is to help you feel better, not worse. Remember, feelings of extreme fatigue are common around infusion time, so rest up and plan to exercise the following day if you feel up to it.
- Try to get at least seven hours of sleep at night.
- Keep a nutritionally balanced diet, and eat at regular intervals.
- Talk with a friend about your day’s activities, hopes and fears. Chatting with a friend is a great way to vent stress. Listening to your friend also is a good way to gain some perspective on your own challenges.
- Keep an exercise log of your activities. Jot down how you felt immediately after a particular activity, how you felt the next day, the intensity of the activity, and how it affected your symptoms.
- Don’t overdo it! Stop exercising well before tiredness ensues.
- When and if you feel like you could handle an increase in activity or difficulty, do it in small increments. For instance, if you walked 200 consecutive feet one day without exacerbating your symptoms, try 225 feet the next day.
- Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, and don’t smoke.
Remember: Physical activity is just as good for the mind as it is for the body. We may not be the next Misty May-Treanor, Michael Phelps, Carmelita Jeter or Tom Daly, but with a little physical activity, we can be a happier and healthier version of ourselves.
For more information found in the blog, please read the IG Living article, The Effects of Exercise on Fatigue and Stamina.
What types of physical activity do you enjoy?