Does Exercise Make Your Lyme Symptoms Worse?

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New Member

Date Joined Sep 2010
Total Posts : 17
   Posted 4/29/2011 12:55 AM (GMT -7)   
All of my life, I have exercised. Before my illness started last summer, I could exercise for 90 minutes at a time several days a week with no problem. Yesterday and today, I used my Wii Fit to walk/step for 10 minutes. That little amount of exercise made me feel much worse. I feel weaker, mildly dizzy and my abdominal pain has increased. It's just unbelievable that that small amount of exercise is too much for me when it's nothing compared to the exercise I've done all my life. Not being able to exercise has been a major loss for me.

Do others of you experience an increase in your Lyme symptoms when you exercise? For those of you who have recovered from Lyme, did you regain your ability to exercise?

Post Edited (Southerner2) : 4/29/2011 2:08:38 AM GMT

Veteran Member

Date Joined Nov 2010
Total Posts : 571
   Posted 4/29/2011 6:37 AM (GMT -7)   
I exercise -- tennis only (very aerobic) -- on days I feel good-- and I've done this all the way through my 7 months (and counting) on antibiotics.

Sometimes I regret it....getting a bad flare that results in shoulder and upper back pain that is pretty excruciating and lasts for a few days.

Other times I feel better from the exercise. But overall, playing tennis does drag me down afterwards. A lot! No dizzyness though.

Tennis is my passion and I don't want to lose the skills I have by not I get out on the court as often as I can even though I might pay for it later.

I think some of my pain comes from muscles being weak due to the months of complete inactivity I had at one point. My brain fog, head pressure and dizzyness kept me in the house like an invalid.

Since some of my Lyme symptoms were--and still are -- upper back and shoulder pain that comes and goes even without exercise, it's no wonder that these are the areas that get most negatively affected when I do play tennis.

My LLMD did encourage me to get out there play....but I've heard and read that other LLMD's DO NOT think aerobic exercise is a good idea at all.

I'm even lifting light weights now.... and that too can cause a bit of a flare. But I push on anyway.

The fact that I do recover from these exercise induced flares and do feel good again (with no pain) in a few days means to me that my muscles and tendons have not been permanently damaged by Lyme.

I am certainly 'not recovered' yet from Lyme but am doing far better than I was several months ago.

It's disappointing that exercise still brings on a flare. In addition to muscle weakness, my flares are most definitely caused by painful muscle knots all over my upper back.

Myofacial Pain Syndrome for sure! I believe Lyme has caused this. I never had muscle knots pre-Lyme.

This is a very stubborn 'symptom' for me that just won't let go, with or without exercise. At least not yet. My stiff neck is also still hanging around.

I'm hopeful that I will recover from these issues too. But who knows.

Interestingly, I am in no pain when I play tennis or do any other exercise related activities like yard work , etc.

The pain always comes on later--- when I am lying still watching TV. So I roll around on a tennis ball to hit those trigger points which does help 'release them' temporarily or until they go away by themselves.

I just refuse to let Lyme get the best of me and prevent me from exercising and losing muscle tone. I can put up with the pain but it is getting very OLD and frustrating already!

The fight goes on!

Maybe I'm setting a bad example by sounding like an exercise advocate....therefore I'm NOT recommending it.

I think it's an individual decision and one should listen to their own doctor as to the dilemma of 'to exercise....or not.'
Lyme-- no coinfections-- never tested positive, diagnosed on symptoms. Had Lyme at least 1 year before treatment.

Meds: Doxy (2.5 months @ 200 mgs. per day) relapse after stopping. Amoxicillin (1.5 months @ 1000 mgs. per day) then Amoxicillin (1 month @ 3000 mgs. per day) Dr. added Azithromycin (250 mgs.) for another month. Now on Mepron (1500 mgs.) + Azithromycin (250 mgs.)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Aug 2007
Total Posts : 4399
   Posted 4/29/2011 6:48 AM (GMT -7)   
Yes, exercise can bring on a symptom flare for me...any exercise...even something as simple as walking up to the mailbox & back...but I try to get out anyway as often as I can. I've had periods of being bed-bound or house-bound and I have to regain the strength somehow...exercise is the only way I know how to get that strength back...

Chronic Lyme, Bart., Gluten & Sulfite Sensitivity, Many Food/Inhalant/Medication/Chemical Allergies & Intolerances, Asthma, Gut dysmotility & non-specific inflammation, Lupus, Osteoporosis, etc.; G-Tube
Meds: Ceftin, LDN, Claritin, Singulair, Domperidone, nutritional supplements, homeopathy, probiotics, etc.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Mar 2009
Total Posts : 2154
   Posted 4/29/2011 7:19 AM (GMT -7)   
My LLMD advised me no aerobics. Walking and weights. I have tried to do the treadmill but have ended up with heart palpitations every time. I LOVE to go walking but so miss my days of kick boxing and aerobic classes. I have gained so much weight and a tire around my middle which is so disappointing since I kept up with myself for so long. O well, gotta accept and move on but it doesn't mean I like buying the bigger sizes just can't let it get in my way of feeling better.
Lyme, HME, HGE, bartonella. 4 years undiagnosed despite 10 drs.
Current meds: roxythyroxine, bactrim, doryx, amanatadine, neurontin, xanax, cymbalta Prior meds: amox, minocycline, tetracy, doxy. IV refused by ins. Supplements: potassium, boluke, alpha lipoic acid, AG immune, magnesium, milk thistle, garlic, grapefruit seed extract, resistant microbes, coq10, fish oil, baby aspirin

Regular Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 28
   Posted 4/29/2011 11:18 AM (GMT -7)   
Exercise seemed to be one of the factors in my initial symptoms for Bartonella and possible lyme. After starting to jog I got head pain and pressure (meningitis) it lasted about a month.

After going off a 10 week antibiotic course I went for a strenuous hour walk and all my symptoms came back.

Knowing that Bart infects blood vessel walls it is not surprising to me that getting the blood flowing aggravates it. I am wondering if it might help to exercise WHILE ON ANTIBIOTICS to flush the bacteria out to get anti-bioticed. Any ideas?

Forum Moderator

Date Joined Nov 2009
Total Posts : 3266
   Posted 4/29/2011 11:19 AM (GMT -7)   
I have found that when it comes to exercise, I really have to listen to my body. Keeping active and moving is so important but there is no value to overdoing it. This has been extremely hard for me as I grew up learning that the best things can be had by pushing through the pain and great strength can be gained by overdoing it!

There seem to be different phases of physical strength and ability as the healing process goes on, I have found after going through this process twice. The situation can change from one week to the next and from one day to the next. Inactivity while healing can lead to a great loss of strength and stamina; I found I had to be careful not to cause injury by getting back to exercise too quickly or too vigorously. Other times the body and mind were willing but my heart couldn't keep up. And other times I was able to go windsurfing and snowboarding!

You should be able to work up to a good level of exercise once your treatment is done. While I have been being treated for Lyme, I found Yoga, walking, and gentle swimming (bobbing around, not laps) have been the best for keeping active. The gentle exercise keeps you supple and strong and definitely helps with a positive outlook.

Take care!

Regular Member

Date Joined Apr 2011
Total Posts : 65
   Posted 4/29/2011 12:09 PM (GMT -7)   
Yes when i try to exercise i get slightly dizzy

Veteran Member

Date Joined Dec 2005
Total Posts : 1336
   Posted 5/1/2011 12:04 PM (GMT -7)   
yes, exercise can bring out your symptoms, but exercise is also key to recovery. It is really important to continue to exercise even when you don't feel that well. Of course, listen to your body and don't push yourself, but if you can try to do something on a regular basis it will help you in the long run.

I was an athlete all my life and when I got sick with lyme I was bedridden. I literally couldn't do anything but lay in bed for months while I was on treatment. I had to start all over again and began by walking on a treadmill for 2 minutes a day. That's all I could do at the time. I worked my way up to 5 minutes and so on until I could gradually do more and more. I then began to lift weights. Light weights which really helped. I could herx after if I pushed myself too hard, but I tried to always do a something even if was a walk around the cul-de-sac I lived on at the time. 3 years later (I was on abx for 2 1/2 years) I was working out 6 days a week at the gym with a trainer 2 days a week for 2 hours a session. I ran 3 miles no problem on a regular basis and was in the best shape of my life.

So yes, you can go on to exercise again. In fact exercise is what I believe helped me get well as much as any antibiotic and exercise is what kept me well for over 3 years. As soon as I quit the gym and stopped working out (got into a new relationship and I let my workouts go) I relapsed within 6 months.

Had I known then what I know now I would never have stopped exercising for anything. I still work out on a regular basis. I have a toddler and a fiance and a house to take care of now so not as much free time, but exercise is still an important factor to staying well from lyme and getting well from lyme.

I can't stress that enough.

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2006
Total Posts : 1477
   Posted 5/1/2011 8:44 PM (GMT -7)   
I still have the lyme and bartonella and other confections going on but getting rid of parasites and heparin for the thick blood along wit visceral manipulation/cranial work is the only reason I am able to get up and walk around and started taking /bikram yoga again.

Oh and did I for get pain killers??
For me it is just not happening without them and cortisone. This is how I get around and function. I hate both these drugs especially because it means really watching the aggressive the behavior.

i don't take antibiotics or do any of the herbal protocols. I just can't go back into the herx torture.

My doctor told me that even if I was completely cured there is too much nerve damange.

There are times that things flare up and I am flattened out. I live in a small town of about 500 and it seems we all come down with something at the same time. so many people are very sensitive and sick.

There was a time when exercise would kill me and the thing that changed that was PARASITE MEDICATION. not even the herbs. I did pharmaceutical. But if I had not gotten the stool test I had gotten I really believe an ordinary one that is covered by insurance would have not picked up what this $395 stool test did.

It changed everything and I have never had a bloated stomach (which I had my entire life) after that.

I had to stop doing the Bikram yoga for about 5 yrs because every time i did it I would be in agony and super flu like. But with heparin blood thinner my blood moves and flushes out toxins and not gets stuck up in my brain and everywhere else backing up on me.

It would be great if we could have any other people who have had these two things taken care of like I did to weigh in on the difference. I really think people who are in treatment with heavy abx and have not had this special stool test done and the ISAC panel for thick blood are really suffering and relapsing.

here is something that I AM TOTALLY MAKING UP RIGHT NOW. If we have all these bacterias and lyme and this and that how do we know our parasites don't have it also? I believe that all people with lyme should be educated for at least 2 hours by a TICK BONE specialits. Ticks carry parasites. Chronic lyme and all these other confections or some doctors believe that lyme is the confection ..causes THICK BLOOD. you can read in this all over the google search. ask your doctor to check you for thick blood with an ISAC panel.

My lyme doctor knew before the blood test came back and put me on heparin right away because he didn't want to risk me having a stroke while I was under his care getting IV treatment.

Before this , i couldn't even walk down the stairs without sliding along the wall and went up on all fours.

I'm no ball of fire but being in pain takes the life out of me. I definitely am stuck with these medications but I am functioning. i don't think I could go jogging. I am able to do the Bikram yoga and NOT everyday. once a week is a big enough of a detox flushing my liver and kidneys and pumping my heart . I can't go even 3 times. Am I in pain after......yes and no. I am on the same dose of pain meds but I don't care because I feel my body alignment is corrected and I just had an big detoxifying class.

I can always lay on the floor if it too much but somehow I make it through and the other people in the class make me stronger. If i was listening to a tape by myself I would be quitting after the first asana. I need the support of the group. It's not easy for anyone .

th stool test was metegenex. gouge it for some details especially if you feel this squeezing around the heart and stomach troubles. i think so much weigh problems is parasites or bacteria in the gut or even attacking the pancreas.

Don't beat yourself up as being lazy if you can't do the exercise. this disease is debiliting but don't give up and I use all the info I learn on this forum to make some obvious sense of what is going on with me but I'm too whipped out to even trust my own judgement. then I hear things hear and I know I'm not crazy OR lazy.
20 yrs of doctors . DEC. 2009 tested positive for lyme, bartonella, ehrichiosis, HHPV6, chlamadyal pneumonia .
parasites :strongylides, diaoebia fragialis, hook worm.

Hep C ....fibro, rhumatoidal,depression,

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2011
Total Posts : 128
   Posted 5/2/2011 6:50 PM (GMT -7)   
I agree with Jeminij, exercise is an important part of recovery. From what I've read increased oxygen flow kills off bacteria, hence the flare of symptoms. The key is to take it slow slow slow and ease yourself back into it.

I was a triathlete and before I started getting really sick my long runs were up to 15 miles. When I discovered what exercise intolerance was (the hard way, of course) I was crushed. Luckily I did lots of digging and reading and found some great resources. The following blog has been of tremendous help (and inspiration!):

Exercise Diva
New Member

Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/22/2011 4:53 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm new to all this stuff..but I just read your dilema...I was diagnosed in May with 
Lymes..border line Bartonella and off the charts Babesia...I too worked out for 90
minutes 6-7 days a week.....I have been taking meds since May and I tried to do
a work-out yesterday...only 24 minutes...a beach body workout and was seriously
struggling...after 18 minutes..I had to talk myself into I am experiencing
air hunger and I can't move..not a good idea..I read up on it and it's not suggested..but
you can do yoga and good a medium paced walk..I am so bummed I can't workout..Dr.
says it will probably be a year until I'm back to normal with my exercise regime...take
is slowly...I feel your pain.....

Forum Moderator

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 35859
   Posted 6/23/2011 9:15 AM (GMT -7)   
HI Exercise Diva!!
Welcome to the forum!!! I am so sorry to hear that you have a need to be here, but I am sure glad you found us!! I'm sure you will find us to be a caring, helpful and understanding group!!

We have several members here who were extremely active before Lyme and other tick-borne infections entered their lives. A couple of them used to run marathons!!!

Maybe you could tell us a bit about yourself? Are you detoxing, dry skin brushing, and drinking plenty of lemon water? A lot of well-meaning docs don't understand the importance of detoxing, but the need to detox is very real!

If you haven't already, it would be beneficial for you to start with reading through the thread at the top of the forum titled,"New to Lyme?...Start here!!", as it is packed full of relevant information and informative links that have been put together by our members here! We also have a pretty good search function on this forum to help you narrow down your search for information from past posts.

Once again, welcome to our little spot!!! smilewinkgrin
Co-Moderator, Lyme Disease ;)

Treating with Acupuncture, Traditional & Modern Chinese Medicine & Western Herbs.

"Absence of proof is not proof of absence" - Dr. Edwin Masters, great LLMD & researcher -RIP

I break up my post because my eyes have been effected by TBI's as well, which makes long paragraphs very hard to read.

Exercise Diva
New Member

Date Joined Jun 2011
Total Posts : 4
   Posted 6/23/2011 9:22 AM (GMT -7)'s a long story..this is my second round..but this time they
diagnosed me with Post Traumatic Syndrome because my husband was in a horrible accident..he lived..but it was horrible..anyway..all the anxiety, panic..tremors were because I was full of stress...that was in March..and I finally insisted on blood work at the end of April...I have Western Blot, border line Bartonella and Babesia...I've taken 3 weeks of stomach inflamation..was put on Amox...for like two weeks..and now I just
finished the Babesia Treatment..I am feeling horrible right now...I guess I will have to have another round of Dr. gave me a script for Ceftin..I'm thinking about going to an Infection Disease Specialist...I miss working's my therapy..and love the feeling...
I think when I worked out I gave the Lyme a boat load of Oxygen and I heated up my body resulting in a boat load of Toxins...I've been drinking lots of decaf green tea..and would love to take Lemon Water, but my acid reflux wouldn't like it that much..I'm taking raw honey with cinnamon...
Any other suggestion..I'm about to burst into tears...
Exercise Diva...

New Member

Date Joined Jan 2011
Total Posts : 18
   Posted 3/17/2017 8:53 AM (GMT -7)   
mad I am sick with lyme since October 1992. Misdiagnosed with Chrohn's disease in the hospital the doctor

decided to put me on high dose intravenous steroids. As far as I am concerned this was the biggest mistake he

ever made and I ever agreed to. The neurological symptoms became so severe that to this day I am

permanently disabled.

I have forgot what exercise is. My exercise now is getting up my stairs so I can try and sleep at night. If I can

make it walking halfway through a mall or costco I am thrilled. As far as strenuous exercise as they say in

Brooklyn, NY Fogetaboutit!

I was explained to my a well known Lyme physician that lyme causes a perivasculitis. In simple terms that is

an inflammation of our blood vessels themselves. Upon biopsy of my blood vessels it show lymphocytes

in the blood vessels. It is my opinion that when I work out doing anything strenuous this increases my pulse

for an extended period of time and this perivasculitis is exacerbated. What it does to me is cause tremors,

ringing in my ears becomes super loud, complete inability to sleep, usually a headache so severe with

inability to look at light, sound intolerable, muscles twitching everywhere including face, malaise so bad that

I have no choice but to lay down in a fetal position for at least two days. To end I feel that increasing my

pulse rate high causes a miserable inflammation of the blood vessels in my brain which has been

demonstrated on mri and spect scan analysis. The only thing that helps if I over do it is pain killers, lay in a

fetal position, ice on back of head and neck helps, keep pulse low until inflammation subsides which for me

can take 2-3 days. Finally on top of all this misery my joints are not stable or strong any longer. It is so

easy to sprain a joint not to mention the migrating pains going from hips to ankles then knees and so on.

I was an expert skier, love the outdoors and hiking and just no can do. Sorry to be so depressing but that's

just the way it is every day.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 35859
   Posted 3/17/2017 9:39 AM (GMT -7)   
This is commonly known as 'exercise intolerance' and something that a lot of us experience. Exercising can increase the amount of oxygen we get into our system, which can kill off bacteria, plus it pushes toxins out of our soft tissues and into our bloodstream, so while it's beneficial, it can just be "too much too fast" as well.

I'm one that has exercise intolerance - not only do I not get far, but afterwards, almost all of my symptoms are increased - this is not a healthy state to be in, as the body is overwhelmed with too many things, so it's advised that we only exercise as much as we can without causing these issues. Rescuing the body time and again from serious symptoms does not help the body heal.
Herb only treatment for Lyme & Bart ended 12/11 - no active symptoms for 2 yrs -Herb only treatment for Babesia ended 12/12
Had Lyme, Bart, Babs, RMSF, Ehrlichia, Myco, Anaplasmosis, EBV
New Lyme case 8/2014 - Healed 1/31/15 - unknowingly had Asymptomatic Babs and Asymptomatic Bart, being treated now though (2/2016)

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2016
Total Posts : 2052
   Posted 3/17/2017 12:55 PM (GMT -7)   
For me, I can ride on an exercise bike for ten minutes and then go to sleep. I feel no benefit from exercise. But I've been battling fatigue issues for a really long time now.
Kid#1: Extremely sick for several years, very difficult to treat, but much better lately!
Kid#2: Very sick now despite being treated for years, very bad year
Kid#3: Doing great, minor relapse, but great again (ironically had least and shortest treatment)!
Me: Adv Labs positive 2016 (suspected I passed to my kids) - not as sick as others, mostly battling fatigue, kidney, heart, and yeast issues

Forum Moderator

Date Joined May 2014
Total Posts : 27852
   Posted 3/17/2017 1:03 PM (GMT -7)   
Exercise makes me feel good.

It could be bartonella affecting my blood flow...maybe that's why the movement helps me.

But, I can't exercise hard...just gentle...I'm a lightweight now.
Moderator, Lyme Forum
Symp started April/2013; Buhner's Lyme May 15-July24/14; Igenex pos. July 3/14
Doxy: July 4-Aug.24/14;Zithro July26-Aug24/14; Amox + Proben. Aug. 29/14;
added biaxin Sept. 26/14
Disc. amox,added Ceftin Nov. 20th.;
Disc. biaxin added Buhner bart herbs Dec/14;Jan/15 pulsing Tinda (w/ Ceftin);
Abx/herb break Apr-July/15; July-mino; Aug. added Rif;
Nov./15 mino - to biaxi

Regular Member

Date Joined Mar 2017
Total Posts : 377
   Posted 3/18/2017 2:58 PM (GMT -7)   
On one of my good days, before I was diagnosed, I went swimming... and for 3 days afterward I felt like my ribs had been run over by a truck. I always had lower back pain, so I did stretches every day that I learned in PT. Since Lyme, I can't do them because I hurt so much worse the next day. Yesterday I tried to shovel a little snow and got horrible air hunger attacks.

But sometimes on a nice day I can go for a very long walk and once in a while I start to jog, I have so much pent-up energy (and I am not a runner. I just don't do it ever. I hate it.) But when the weather gets nice and I feel good, I just have to GO! It comes in cycles for me, the good days and bad days. So I can go out for a hike on the very good days and feel good. But most of the time everything exhausts me and hurts.

And yet, this couch potato has lost 10 pounds. Thats the power of clean eating, (and losing your appetite every few weeks)
geocaching in April 2016. Found a treasure trove of Lyme and Babesia.

Forum Moderator

Date Joined May 2007
Total Posts : 35859
   Posted 3/18/2017 4:37 PM (GMT -7)   
Girlie said...
Exercise makes me feel good.

Okay - I'm now officially jealous of you!!!! smilewinkgrin
Herb only treatment for Lyme & Bart ended 12/11 - no active symptoms for 2 yrs -Herb only treatment for Babesia ended 12/12
Had Lyme, Bart, Babs, RMSF, Ehrlichia, Myco, Anaplasmosis, EBV
New Lyme case 8/2014 - Healed 1/31/15 - unknowingly had Asymptomatic Babs and Asymptomatic Bart, being treated now though (2/2016)
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