LEMS and Exercise

Emily Malcolm, PhD avatar

by Emily Malcolm, PhD |

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LEMS and exercise

Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) is a rare autoimmune disease characterized by the immune system mistakenly attacking the nerve cells that control muscles. The most common symptom of LEMS is muscle weakness that gets worse over time.

Health benefits of exercise

Regular exercise can help people lose weight and stay healthy. Exercising improves mood and mental health, as well as improving sleep and boosting energy levels.

Establishing and maintaining an exercise routine

If you have LEMS, you may want to discuss your exercise goals with a physiotherapist who can help you design an exercise routine that is safe and will help you reach your goals.

Many LEMS patients experience painful muscle cramps in addition to weakness in the legs and ankles. If you are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to discuss with your doctor what exercises are safest for you; anything that might cause you to stumble and fall would not be a good exercise. You might choose swimming instead of running, for example. If you are introducing new exercises or a more strenuous exercise routine than before, you should discuss your exercise plan with your doctor to ensure you are exercising safely.

As a LEMS patient, you may feel more tired than normal after exercising and become exhausted more quickly. It’s important not to “push past” fatigue when exercising, as you are more likely to injure yourself if you are tired. Gentle exercise for longer may be more beneficial than rapid, high-intensity exercise.

After exercise, it may take you longer to “recharge.” Pace yourself, and discuss with your doctor and physiotherapist your exercise routine, and any symptoms you notice when working out.

LEMS is a progressive disease; you may find that some exercises, which used to be easy for you become very difficult over time. You should discuss this with your doctor, as this is a symptom of disease progression.


Last updated: April 20, 2020


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