EXERCISE AND FYBROMYALGIA
Fybromyalgia (FMS) is a disease that affects millions of people, mostly women. The classic symptoms of FMS are widespread pain, fatigue, and sleep problems. However, there are many other symptoms that patients experience and not everyone has the same symptoms. Also, symptoms ebb and wane, depending on the patient’s situation.
BENEFITS OF EXERCISE
Exercise is one of the most effective treatments for fibromyalgia. It benefits all of the symptoms of fibromyalgia, including pain, fatigue, and sleep problems. Exercise can help maintain bone mass, improve balance, reduce stress, and increase strength. Getting regular exercise can also help control your weight, which is important to reducing the pain of fibromyalgia.
Although moving your body may be the last thing on your mind, the benefits of exercise for fybromyalgia patients are substantial. The key is starting slowly and gradually increasing your activity level. For example, you can start walking just five minutes a day for a week and then add a minute each week until you’re up to 20 to 30 minutes a day. It might take 15 weeks to reach that point, but that’s OK. For those who have never exercised, starting a regular program may seem daunting. In this case, try to just increase activity such as walking a bit more or climbing a flight of stairs.
A 2010 study found that regular daily activities, such as taking the stairs, gardening, or doing chores, can help reduce pain and improve daily functioning for those with fibromyalgia. This study shows that every bit of activity is beneficial for fibromyalgia pain. It doesn’t need to be a formal exercise program.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
For those of you who were very active before fibromyalgia, you may need to learn a different approach to exercise now. Many people try to do too much too soon and then feel frustrated when their symptoms flare up. Again, starting slowly is important, even if you have always been active before. Eventually, you will realize how much exercise you can do without overdoing it.
KEEP ACTIVE EVERY DAY
Being active every day is vital if exercise is going to work for your symptoms. For many people, the best options may be walking or using exercise equipment, since these are activities that are easily accessible most days of the year. Exercising in a warm pool is another good way to start being active. Warm water has a soothing effect on muscles and joints and may make exercise less painful. But even if you start in a pool, it’s still a good idea to work towards a ground-based workout in the case that a pool is not accessible.
Cycling, running, yoga, strength training, and low-impact exercise classes are just a few other ways to get exercise and help ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia. The most important thing is to find some kind of exercise you enjoy like taking a walk, visiting your neighbor, or walking the dog. If you can find a friend or family member to exercise with you, that can also be helpful.
EXERCISE TIPS TO PREVENT INJURY
Whether you’re walking or participating in an exercise class, here are some exercise tips that can help prevent injury or pain:
- Exercise at the time of day that you feel best. For many people with fibromyalgia, this is between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. But your best time may be different.
- Stretch. This can help warm up your muscles and minimize pain after exercise. You can stretch while lying down, standing, or sitting in a chair. Some people may find it helpful to stretch in a warm bath or shower.
- Take small steps. When walking, try not to swing your arms too much or take big steps. Walk on flat, even surfaces to reduce your risk of falling.
- Ease into strength training. For strengthening exercises, consider using elastic bands instead of weights and start with a single set of repetitions.
- Pace yourself. When doing stretching or strengthening exercises, alternate sides often and take a short rest between repetitions.
- Take breaks. Again, listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to go as slowly as you need to.
- Pamper yourself afterward. When you’re finished exercising, take a hot shower or bath.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF
Although exercise can improve the symptoms of fibromyalgia, the effects are not always immediate. Exercise is really the best long-term treatment for the pain and fatigue of fibromyalgia but it can take up to six months before you notice a change in your symptoms. Many patients use exercise along with other treatments that provide temporary relief for symptoms. That way, they can have relief from their symptoms until the relief kicks in from the exercise. However, exercise is one of the best treatments, with no side effects from medication, which will definitely provide symptom relief that will last.