Exercise is not only beneficial for those training to be an athlete or looking to have a rock hard body with zero body fat. It can be beneficial for those suffering from an autoimmune disease (AD) as well. The key is to find the right intensity and best exercises to help you deal with your AD.

While there are still many pros and cons of exercise for someone with an AD, the consensus is that exercise adapted to the individual can help to boost your immune system. Exercise also helps improve your mood and makes it easier to sleep better at night. Some specialist doctors are also ordering physical therapy as a part of a patient’s plan to help cope with their AD.

Dr. Mark Hyman, a Functional Medicine Doctor and author of The Blood Sugar Solution 10 Day Detox Diet, recommends nine health changes that include diet; fixing the gut; supplements; getting tested for hidden infections, celiac disease, hidden food allergies, and heavy metal toxicity; exercise; deep relaxation; and getting a good night’s sleep.

Movement is essential to those suffering from the pain that comes with an AD, including fibromyalgia and other chronic pain issues. The chronic pain is the result of exacerbated inflammation. Exercise, if done properly, can help reduce that inflammation and any associated pain.

Walking is the most recommended exercise. One can do this as fast or slow as manageable. Since you control how to exercise, you get to control whether a longer, non-intense routine works for you—versus a short, rather intense session.

It is important that you learn to manage your stress. Living with reduced stress could help keep AD from flaring up. Find stress-reducing activities that you enjoy. These could be yoga, tai chi, meditation or self-hypnosis. Some say you can manage your pain if you manage your stress.

As hard as this can be at times, you need to try to get a good eight hours of sleep. Everyone with an AD knows that often the pain will keep you awake. But like with stress, sleep is important.

More and more studies are coming out about the benefits of cannabis and cancer and AD’s. Currently nine states have legalized recreational marijuana and medical marijuana is legal in 29 states. A 2017 Gallup poll shows that 64% of the people support legalizing marijuana. How and why it actually works on AD has been studied with positive results.

Having an autoimmune disease can be devastating in so many ways. Dealing with doctors, medication, food, and exercise can be overwhelming. There are support groups in just about every city. Find one near you or start your own group. Take control of your disease!