Exercise and Lyme Disease by Kristin Sprows, BS, CPT
Pfizer Global Occupational Health and Wellness
For those with late stage tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease, poor physical condition is a common end result that may eventually lead to other physical ailments. The good news is that this can be prevented or even reversed through physical therapy and independent exercise. According to the International Lyme And Associated Disease Society, “chronic Lyme patients will not return to normal unless they pursue a formal program of therapeutic exercise.”
Chronic Lyme disease sufferers experience extreme fatigue and body pain, making therapy or exercise more of a challenge to overcome. Many feel stiff, weak, tired, have poor stamina and are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as a result. Taking this into consideration, physical therapy should be prescribed in order to manage joint pain while increasing range of motion, flexibility and muscle strength. The goal of therapy should be preparation for a fitness center-based, independent exercises program.
All exercise programs should be monitored by a credentialed exercise physiologist and increased slowly, beginning at an extremely low intensity and focused on muscular conditioning and gentle stretching. The routines should eventually include muscular toning, strengthening and flexibility. Until the patient has fully recovered, aerobic exercise should not be performed.
Exercise may help improve mood and sleep, reverse the physical de-conditioning, increase energy levels and reduce the potential joint pain associated with Lyme disease.