If you’re living with lupus, regular physical activity can be an important part of your overall treatment plan. Staying active can boost your energy levels, improve joint flexibility, and help alleviate stress.

Lupus is an autoimmune condition that can cause symptoms like fatigue, inflammation, and joint pain. A treatment plan to manage your condition is crucial, of which fitness is a key component.

Incorporating low intensity exercise and strength training into your routine can offer numerous benefits. Creating a lupus-informed exercise plan is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of your workouts.

Before you begin an exercise routine, talk with your healthcare professional to get the go-ahead and determine the best plan for your needs.

To minimize stress on your joints and muscles, opt for activities such as walking, cycling, and swimming. Gentle yoga, Pilates, and cardio workouts are also excellent options.

Be consistent with your workout routine and include a diverse range of exercises that target all major muscle groups. Continuously challenging your body with different movements and activities can help keep your workouts engaging.

Go at your own pace and work within your limits. If your workouts cause stress or overwhelm you for any reason, including a packed schedule, reduce the intensity or duration of your routines. Allow yourself ample time to rest and recover.

Allocate time to engage in enjoyable activities that aid in stress reduction, especially when you have fatigue or low energy. Incorporate stress-reducing techniques such as journaling, yoga nidra, and guided imagery into your weekly routine.

Tree pose

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This pose focuses on balance, strength, and stability. It also encourages relaxation, helps still your mind, and may restore a sense of inner calmness.

  1. From standing, shift your weight onto your left foot.
  2. Slowly lift your right foot off the floor.
  3. Rotate the sole of your right foot to face the inner part of your left leg.
  4. Place your foot on your outer ankle, calf, or thigh. Avoid placing your foot directly on your knee.
  5. Place your hands in any comfortable position.
  6. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  7. Repeat on the opposite side.


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This exercise improves stability and core strength while targeting your glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings to develop lower body strength.

  1. Stand with feet hip distance apart or slightly wider.
  2. Raise your arms to shoulder level in front of your body.
  3. Bend your knees to lower yourself into a squat position.
  4. Pause for a moment before returning to the starting position.
  5. Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.

If you’ve mastered the standard squat, check out these variations.

High lunge

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Lunges are an excellent exercise to improve strength, balance, and stability.

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
  2. Step your left foot forward, aligning your knee directly above or slightly behind your ankle.
  3. Bend both knees until your back knee is just above the floor.
  4. Lengthen your spine and engage your core for stability.
  5. Push through your front heel to return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.
  7. Do 1–3 sets of 8-12 repetitions.

If you’ve mastered the high lunge, check out these variations.


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This exercise strengthens your shoulders, core, and hamstrings. It also improves joint stability.

  1. Begin on all fours, with your hands directly under your shoulders.
  2. Straighten your legs and lift your heels, raising your hips to align your spine.
  3. Activate your abdominal, arm, and leg muscles to create stability.
  4. Lengthen the back of your neck and release any tension in your shoulders.
  5. Hold this position for up to 1 minute.
  6. Repeat 1–3 times.

Bridge pose

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This exercise targets your cores, glutes, and hamstrings.

For optimal alignment, place a small ball, cushion, or yoga block between your knees.

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet pressing firmly into the floor.
  2. Slowly lift your hips off the floor.
  3. Hold this position for 5 breaths.
  4. Lower your hips to the starting position.
  5. Do 1–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions.

If you’ve mastered the standard bridge post, check out these variations.

Exercising when you have lupus offers numerous benefits that can positively impact your health and well-being.

Research from 2021 suggests that consistent physical activity may help improve quality of life, heart health, and symptoms, including stress, fatigue, and depression in people with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

A 2020 study indicates that upper limb exercises are beneficial for individuals with SLE. They may significantly improve hand function, alleviate pain, and make it easier to perform daily activities.

Regular exercise can help increase strength and flexibility, making movements and daily tasks easier. It can also increase your mobility and range of motion.

Being physically active supports weight management and promotes bone strength, which helps prevent osteoporosis.

Working out can boost mood, enhance cognitive function, and increase energy levels. It may help alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression while improving sleep quality.

Is it better to rest or be active if you have lupus?

Finding the right balance between rest and physical activity is essential if you have lupus. The ideal balance may vary depending on your symptom severity, overall health, and daily well-being. Listen to your body and adjust your level of activity accordingly.

Is it safe to exercise or work out if you have lupus?

It’s generally safe to exercise or work out if you have lupus as long as you pay attention to your technique and respect your limitations.

Can exercise cause lupus to flare up?

While exercise is generally beneficial for managing lupus, intense or prolonged physical activity may trigger symptoms and cause a flare-up.

Intense exercise can also cause physical and emotional stress, which may contribute to a flare.

If you experience increased fatigue, joint pain, or other symptoms during or after exercise, modify your routine or take a break.

What’s the best exercise for someone with lupus?

The best exercises for someone with lupus are low impact activities such as walking, swimming, and cycling. Yoga, Pilates, and light strength training are also suitable.

These exercises boost flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and muscle strength while minimizing joint stress.

Are there certain types of exercise or movement you should avoid if you have lupus?

If you have lupus, avoid high impact activities that strain your joints, such as jogging, weightlifting, and intense cardio exercises. Stay away from any activities involving repetitive pounding and sudden, forceful movements.

Be mindful of overexertion and excessive fatigue. Listen to your body and adjust your activity level accordingly.

Developing a fitness routine can help manage lupus symptoms and improve your overall well-being. Regular exercise brings physical benefits such as improved mobility, increased comfort, and a greater sense of calmness.

Be cautious when starting your fitness journey. Avoid overexertion, high intensity workouts, and activities that may cause pain or strain. Prioritize gentle, low impact exercises suitable for your needs.

Consult with your healthcare professional for guidance and personalized recommendations, including modifications and safety tips.