The Fat Fights – Part 2 -The Wolf Weighs In
The wolf is a ruffian who rarely rides alone, especially in SLE. Our symptoms are compounded when we’re hit from all sides by lupus and its related syndromes. These relentless assaults can make managing our stress, pain and weight seem hopeless.
According to numerous clinical studies over several years, chronic stress has clear and serious physical effects. It increases the perception of pain so that which is bearable when we feel relaxed becomes intolerable. It disturbs sleep, raises blood pressure and makes blood glucose levels unstable. This glucose problem is a major cause in the widespread rise in adult onset diabetes, which is also increasing among children.
Chronic stress causes plaque in coronary arteries, contributing to heart attacks. Stressed immune systems are less resistant to infection, more susceptible to flare and to diseases including cancer. One effect of chronic stress is an increase in fatty deposits in the waist and hips. This gain, on top of lupus swelling and medication bloat, can add to the overwhelming pressure.
Gastric bypass has become a popular slimming solution but this surgery is a drastic makeover which sometimes fails and can be very dangerous, even deadly. On the Big Fat Blog, you can read a discussion on Gastric Bypass Death
and one on The Thin Pill
or how to look like you have cancer for pennies a day.
We can be healthier without stapling our stomachs, swallowing diet gimmicks or crying ourselves to sleep. We need regular exercise to keep our blood flowing, our hearts pumping and our lungs oxygenating. When we do aerobic exercises, we’re stimulating our systems, promoting oxygenation, reducing pain, fatigue and depression and developing stronger muscle tissue in our joints and overall.
A 1998 study concluded that people with lupus related conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia benefit most from rest and range-of-motion exercises during flare. Other and more recent studies found that, when not in flare, aerobic exercises such as swimming, bicycling, brisk walking and even running can do us considerable good.
We can go for a swim, take up walking, try Tai Chi or take a Yoga class. If we start walking just 10 minutes a day, 3 days a week, we can build up by 5 or 10 minutes a day, comfortably and without injury. Walking and swimming may be the most practical exercises for many of those with SLE but some of us may be hypersensitive to chlorination in swimming pools.
Tai Chi consists of slow, gentle exercises which are fairly easy to learn. Because Tai Chi is a contemplative form of exercise, we learn to know our bodies and respond to their needs. We can learn many stretching Yoga movements without twisting ourselves into pretzels. Many communities offer inexpensive beginner’s classes and there are instructional videos for sale or rent.
Light weights can be fashioned from things around the house. If you’re frail, a bag of rice or dried beans hefted in each hand can get oxygen and blood flowing. With gradual increases, you can work up to 2 ½ to 5 pound hand weights when you’re ready.
Exercise can even be fun. Sing your hearts out and increase your oxygen input. Dance your feet off and strengthen your muscles. Slap on a smile and pretty colors and raise your self-image. Sounds too easy? It works, friends, it really does.