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Tuberculosis – Exercise Is Essential, But With Care

South Africa has one of the most serious tuberculosis (TB) epidemics in the world.

The highly infectious disease is the country’s leading cause of death. It is also one of the most difficult diseases to treat successfully.

The patients’ rehabilitation can be a long, complex process involving medication, diet and exercise.

According to Dr Lloyd Leach of the Department of Sport Recreation and Exercise Science at the University of the Western Cape and Director of Academia at the Biokinetics Association of South Africa (BASA), exercise and fitness can greatly reduce the detrimental effects of TB. However, the introduction of an exercise programme should always be cleared by the patient’s physician, and if indicated, must be engaged gradually.

“Simply embarking on an incorrectly structured and unmonitored exercise regime can actually make the negative effects of the disease worse. In fact, TB patients who remain below normal weight and still have a slightly elevated body temperature are much safer at complete rest than those who exercise,” says Dr Lloyd. However, closely monitored exercise is safe and can improve peak oxygen consumption, quality of life, and the functional status of TB sufferers. So, where possible, exercise under the supervision of a biokineticist who fully understands the disease and its associated risks. The professional should be experienced in cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation and are therefore would be trained to design an exercise programme that is tailored for the individual patient.

During the fever stage of the disease, absolute bed-rest is essential. Even deep breathing exercises should be avoided, while the disease is active, as there is a danger of adhesions in the lungs tearing loose and setting up the disease once again.

“As the individual gets better and no longer runs a temperature, exercise – if taken within proper limits – is of value, and under proper direction can be instrumental in promoting full recovery,” he adds.

Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.