A 15-minute swim for lupus erythematosus
The Endless Pool was not invented especially with Tish Spencer in mind, it just seems that way. An avid runner, once diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus, necessarily needed to find a no-impact exercise.
Lupus, an autoimmune disorder that afflicts some two million people, is little understood, but young women account for about 85 percent of lupus patients; and although no specific genetic, or even a direct hereditary link has been identified, it is disproportionately prevalent among the African-American, Asian, Native American, and Hispanic populations.
Symptoms from lupus vary widely in type and severity, but, as an infirmity that attacks red blood cells, fatigue and joint inflammation are widespread.
Tish, 32, first discovered the no-impact benefit of aquatic therapy in a local hospital's exercise pool. But as a resident of a farm in Nebraska 20 miles from the nearest town, the Endless Pool, installed in her basement, is a vastly more accessible medium for maintaining both her physical and emotional well-being.
"It's amazing what it does for me," says Tish, who describes herself as "not a good swimmer" but whose Endless Pool includes the deep-end option to accommodate her running regimen.
"It's about the only thing that can give me the cardiovascular workout I was accustomed to when I was able to run."
That workout consists of a half-hour, four times a week, in water she maintains at 88 degrees. Tish also uses her Endless Pool to neutralize the fluctuating up-and-down cycle of symptoms that usually accompanies lupus.
"If I'm having a day where I feel crummy, I can get in the pool a couple of times," she says, "and just 15 minutes makes a big difference in the way I feel."