Being More Active with Fibromyalgia
Speak with your doctor before making changes to your diet or exercise routine. Physical activity may help you to manage fibromyalgia. Studies show that even light exercise can have a positive effect on your symptoms and daily activities.
Being more active may help to:
- Reduce the pain associated with fibromyalgia
- Improve your sleep
- Increase your physical fitness so that your daily activities are less painful
Sometimes even light activity can be painful when you have fibromyalgia, but incorporating exercise into your daily routine may help ease the pain. You could go to the gym or simply increase the amount of physical activity within your day.
Before you begin incorporating physical activity to treat fibromyalgia pain talk to your healthcare provider about how your pain affects you. Work together to identify an exercise regimen that fits into your fibromyalgia treatment plan, and that suits your lifestyle.
Types of exercise for fibromyalgia
Some studies have shown that physical activity is one of the most effective ways to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia. Try one of these activities:
You can incorporate walking into your everyday life by walking around your home or yard, taking the stairs, walking in the mall, or parking at the far end of the parking lot.
If you have access to a warm pool, water-based activities, such as swimming, water walking, and aquarobics, are a great place to start.
Gentle stretching is good for you both physically and mentally. It can help improve flexibility, increase blood flow to the muscles, reduce stress and calm your mind.
Movement and breathing exercises
Less strenuous exercise such as yoga, tai chi, Pilates and Gyrotonic may help to increase your balance, core strength and flexibility.
Light weight training or resistance training, where you use your own body weight to strengthen your muscles, may help to make you stronger and fitter.
Important things to keep in mind
Start low and slow.
Start with a few minutes a day with one of the recommended exercises and stick with it. Over time, gradually increase the amount of time and intensity.
Don’t push yourself too much.
If you overexert yourself, you may do more harm than good. Even if you feel great and want to do more in the moment, you could feel the pain and soreness the next day.
If your physical ability is limited one day, don’t overcompensate by overdoing it the next day when you feel more up for it. Find a balance of short periods of activity and rest that works for you.
Anyone starting an exercise routine can expect to experience some soreness in the beginning. If you continue at a pace that suits your capabilities, this may subside over time.
Warm up your muscles before and after each exercise session.
Set goals and track your progress.
Setting realistic goals in partnership with your healthcare provider will help you to stay motivated. By tracking your progress, you’ll be able to see the effect that physical activity may have on your fibromyalgia pain.
Recognize your barriers.
Understanding and anticipating the things that could stand between you and your physical activity can help you find ways to address and plan around them. If you don’t have access to a gym, can you exercise at home or outside? If you exercise outside, can you walk in the mall if the weather is bad?
Starting and maintaining an exercise routine is easier with support from your family and friends. Connect with other people who have fibromyalgia in your local community or online; discuss your activity goals and invite them to join you in your efforts. Keep your family involved as well.
Keep at it.
While it may be painful to exercise with fibromyalgia, try to stick to your routine so you can experience the benefits. Always listen to your body and tailor your activity based on how you feel.
Keep track of your fibromyalgia management
Keeping a daily record can help you manage fibromyalgia and communicate better with your healthcare provider. Over time, you’ll be able to see how your exercise regimen is impacting your pain and how you feel every day. Print a free “Fibro Log” from the American Chronic Pain Association today.