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Slow Motion Strength Training for Lyme Disease

Updated: Jan 18, 2022

Chronic Lyme can leave you weak, feeling like you don’t want to move.

There is a time with Lyme when rest is the best option, especially if you are going through adrenal fatigue. However, individuals with Lyme are encouraged to exercise. It's best not to overexert and then to build their exercise regimen from there. According to Joseph Burrascano, Jr., MD, one of the leading experts in Lyme Disease Treatment.

"Despite antibiotic treatments, patients will NOT return to normal unless they exercise, so therefore an aggressive rehab program is necessary."

There are many reasons for the positive effect of exercise, especially for Lyme sufferers.

Exercise Stimulates the Nerves and Muscles

Movement is essential as Lyme can affect the nervous system, and long periods without exercise or being sedentary weaken our muscles. Physical activity also moves the Lyme Borrelia bacteria from hiding places in the heart and brain. Instead, it flushes it into the bloodstream, where our immune system may destroy it.

Exercise Strengthens the Immune System and Helps Fight Immune Exhaustion

Though researchers do not entirely understand how the mechanism works, they know that skeletal muscle harbors T-Cells and can even help regenerate them. Muscles improve the population of "muscle-infiltrating lymphocytes," which decreases inflammation and increases T-cell pools. Reduced inflammation is vital since chronic inflammation leads to worse outcomes over time when the body fights an infection over time.

Strength Training Optimizes the Body's Immune Response

This optimization of the body's immune response is excellent news for anyone suffering from a chronic illness. A 2019 review published in The Journal Of Sport And Health Science shows that exercise deploys the body's pathogen- and inflammation-fighting immune cells, thereby slowing the effects of aging on immune strength. "Physical activity can also flush bacteria out of lungs and airways and causes changes in antibodies or white blood cells to help fight infections," explains Dr. Purvi Parikh, a New York City-based allergist-immunologist affiliated with NYU Lagone Health.

Exercise is an essential component of any Lyme Disease treatment plan

According to Dr. Joseph Burrascanno, Jr, MD, a leading Lyme disease expert, "Despite antibiotic treatments, patients will NOT return to normal unless they exercise, so, therefore, an aggressive rehab program is necessary. It is a fact that a properly executed exercise program can go beyond the antibiotics in helping to clear the symptoms and to maintain remission."

The proper kind of exercise can help you get back to having energy and being you.

According to Burrascanno, exercise is essential in treating Lyme for the following reasons:

  1. There is evidence that exercise may benefit the immune system's T-cell function. (Read more about the benefits of strength training for immune health )

  2. If exposed to the tiniest oxygen concentrations, aggressive exercise can increase tissue perfusion and oxygen levels. This will cause Lyme Borrelia to die.

  3. Borrelia is very heat sensitive, and during aggressive exercise, the core body temperature can rise above 102 degrees. Perhaps it is the added tissue oxygenation, or higher body temperature, or the combination that weakens the Lyme Borrelia and allows the antibiotics and our defenses to be more effective

  4. Regular exercise helps mobilize lymph and enhance circulation. (Read more about the benefits of strength training for lymph circulation, immune health, and detoxification )

  5. An intermittent exercise program may help reset the HPA-axis more towards normal.

With Lyme Rest and Recovery after Strength Training is Crucial

Rest and recovery are essential for anyone engaging in strength training but even more so for the chronically ill. The goal of an exercise program for Lyme is to allow proper time for rest and recovery. On the off days, there should be complete rest to enable renewal after the training sessions. Training should meet the client where they are and progress from there. The exercises should be anaerobic.

Slow Motion Strength Training May Be Beneficial and Safer Form of Exercise for Lyme

Slow Motion Strength Training is a beneficial exercise for Lyme sufferers because it is not aerobic. There is no pounding, jumping, or jarring motions that can further inflame joints under attack from the Lyme bacteria. Slow Motion Strength training protects the joints, and the movements are slow and controlled. A typical lifting and lowering cadence is 8-10 seconds, which is very slow. That takes momentum and force out of the equation. The most significant cause of injury in exercise is momentum and force.

That slower pace also offers higher intensity with lower weights because the muscles get no help from momentum and therefore do more work. Using a 10 second positive and negative cadence increases the intensity without requiring very high weights. Skeptical? Try a push-up at a regular pace and then try a push-up 10 seconds lowering and 10 seconds raising. It is significantly more challenging when the pace is slow.

Do you have Lyme Disease? My research on strength training as an aid to Lyme management and recovery came from my own experience. After battling Lyme for years, I was finally at a point to consider working again, and I became a personal trainer at a slow-motion strength training studio. I incorporated the workouts twice a week for 20 minutes into my routine. At first, my recovery after workouts was very hard, but I noticed that my energy levels were soaring after three months. I went from needing 12 hours of sleep a night to only 8, which I had not experienced in years.

After working with chronically ill clients, I began researching why there was such a tremendously positive effect on clients' energy (aside from strength and the other positive benefits of strength training). A growing body of evidence suggests strength training's fantastic health benefits extend beyond strength, weight loss, bone health, etc., and improve our immune health.

If you are a woman with Lyme Disease or other chronic illness and would like to regain your energy and improve your recovery, schedule a FREE INTRO Call with me. It's RISK-FREE and No Obligation. I am a NASM Certified Trainer specializing in Women's Fitness and Senior Fitness.

We are stronger together!

Book your free Intro Call Here!


Lyme Disease Research Data Base

Lyme Disease and Physical Therapy

Burrascano.Jr., J. J. (2018, June 15). Advanced topics in lyme disease. Member Community. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from

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