Exercise offers many benefits in the treatment of Chronic Lyme disease. The treatment of lyme and its coinfections (regardless of the modality used i.e. antibiotics, herbs, rife, etc.) results in a significant load of toxic byproducts in the tissues and lymphatic system. These byproducts include remnants of dead bacteria as well as the heavy metals and chemicals being released as the Lyme load is reduced. The body mounts an inflammatory immune response to these bacterial remnants which is responsible for the well known "Herxheimier's reaction." Exercise, through increased circulation and lymphatic drainage, enables the body to more quickly and efficiently rid itself of these substances, and thereby reduce the length and intensity of the Herx reactions.
Another potential benefit of exercise, when done correctly, is that it can raise your core body temperature, and thereby aid in eradicating these infections. We know from research that borrelia, the Lyme bacteria, thrives in certain areas of the body like the sinuses, collagen tissue underneath the skin, and joints and ligaments due to their scarce blood flow and lower temperature. Proper exercise enables one to raise his core body temperature for a sustained period of time. We strongly recommend patients engage in exercise utilizing weights. The highlights of the program follow.
Lyme Exercise Program Highlights:
- Use low weights, typically 1/2 to 1/3 of what you would normally lift. Do 30 repetitions per set for the upper body, and 50 repetitions per set for the lower body. Aim to do 2 sets per muscle group making sure to exercise both the upper and lower body each time. Exercise every other day.
- Work up to this goal gradually even if it takes you 12-18 months to reach the target.
- Make sure to spend some time for a warm up and warm down, before and after exercise, to minimize risk of injury.
- It is strongly recommended you get a hot shower or bath for 5-10 minutes after each workout to at least temporarily raise the skin temperature to reduce Lyme survival under the skin.
- Exercise can be a huge stressor on the body especially in Lyme patients. Get extra rest on the days you workout. Ideally, a nap after the bath for 1-2 hours.
A word of caution: Several studies have shown that our immune systems work less effectively when our adrenals become run down. Not getting enough sleep/down time while engaging in an exercise program can spell disaster for your Lyme treatment program and your health. Go slow and please do not over exercise, especially early in the course of your treatment.