So the statistics are out; 50 million people suffer from an autoimmune disease in the United States.  Too many in my opinion.  Many of those people, like me, are sick and tired of being tired. Many of those people, like me, want to be healthier.

If you’re one of those people who choose to be proactive, then I believe you will obtain health and happiness.  It’s all about lifestyle choices.  Let’s face it, we didn’t sign up to have a chronic illness, but we can choose to make the best of our situation. We can choose healthy habits, and over time, improve our endurance and strength.

Practice makes progress possible.

More than anything else I’ve done in life, teaching soccer has taught me specific techniques to improve endurance and strength.  Soccer players, in my opinion, are in the best overall shape of all athletes.

Why is that? It’s partly because they have to be.  Soccer is a continuous 90 minutes on the field of constant running,– so players need to vigorously train in order to be able to compete. But it’s also about the way they train. My players pushed themselves a lot harder than I can due to my psoriatic arthritis, but ultimately our practices consisted of stretching and interval training – the same principles I use to build my own strength and mobility today 

How can interval training help someone with an autoimmune disease?

Interval training is a unique way of building strength and endurance by increasing and decreasing levels of intensity during a workout.  For instance, walking for 30 minutes at the same pace is not the same as walking for 15 minutes normally and then walking at a faster pace for 15 minutes.  Both are 30 minutes of exercise but the later one increases the intensity demanding more energy. Thus improving one’s performance and ultimately increasing mobility, strength, stamina.

Your condition is going to determine the length and intensity you train.  If you’re first starting out you’re going to have to start slow.  As you progress you can add time.  You will start to feel stronger and more fit.  Journal your progress so you can add time in increments.

The beauty of interval training is that you can break up the workout time however you decide.  Three sets of 10 minutes for 30 minutes, or 4 sets of 15 minutes for an hour.  Interval training adds intensity to your workout improving your performance and overall conditioning.  Muscles respond better to this sort of training rather than the same motion continuously.

Focus on the benefits.

You’ve heard that expression, “If you don’t move you rust”.  Well sometimes movement can be rough when you have a chronic illness, but most doctors will agree that exercise plays a vital role in overall health.  I suggest speaking with your doctor and asking him/her which sort of exercise he/she would recommend. In the beginning, I’m sure your doctor will suggest low impact exercises such as swimming, biking, or walking.  With my arthritis, I’ve found these forms of exercises are the best way for me to stay in shape.

When you exercise, your brain releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. The circulation of your blood and the lymphatic system will improve too. You may even find exercise boosts your confidence and self-esteem.

Cardio and strength training should be incorporated each time you work out.  Make sure you stretch to prevent injuries and to warm up the muscles.  And I recommend planks over sit-ups to build up your core.

The goal is to get healthy. Too much too soon will hamper your progress with an injury.  Always speak to your physician before starting an exercise program.  

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