How Exercise Benefits Those With Fibromyalgia
People with fibromyalgia have chronic muscle pain and areas called “trigger points” that are tender when touched. No one knows the exact cause of fibromyalgia and the diagnosis is made by examining symptoms along with trigger point tenderness in the specific areas involved in the disease process.
One would think that people with chronic muscle pain should rest their muscles but, in fact, the opposite is true. Exercise is a good physical practice for those who have fibromyalgia and it has numerous benefits.
Benefits Of Fibromyalgia
• Increases energy to counteract chronic fatigue
• Helps reduce chronic pain
• Release the body’s natural painkillers called endorphins and enkephalins during exercise, which are the body’s own, natural morphine. This causes an improved mood and significant pain relief. Apparently, this phenomenon becomes stronger over time so you will need consistent exercise to enjoy this pain relief.
• Improves joint flexibility
• Maintains bone mass
• Improves balance
• Reduces stress (a major factor in reducing pain)
• Improves sleep
• Builds strength
• Controls weight that in turn reduces pain and its occurrence
• Combats stiffness in the muscles and joints
• Boosts positive mood to combat depression
• Allows for a fuller life and improves quality of life
How To Start Exercising With Fibromyalgia
Before you can start an exercise program with fibromyalgia, you have to believe that it can help. You need to know that research has been done on fibromyalgia and exercise proving its benefits in helping manage the disease. It has been found that exercise increases your bone mass, helps improve your balance, improves your muscle strength, controls weight, and reduces your stress levels.
Even though you might believe that moving around and exercising is the last thing you want to be doing, you need to believe that it really does help. You don’t have to run a marathon today but every little bit helps, especially in the beginning.
You definitely need to start slowly. If you can only exercise in bed or on the couch, start there. Move your arms and legs around and lift weights with your arms or legs that you can handle. Eventually that will become easier and you will be able to get out of bed and exercise upright. Start by walking slowly, in your house outside seems too stressful.
Climb a set of stairs in your house if you have stairs and go as high as your muscles will take you before turning around and going back down. After a few days, it will be easier and you will notice you need to take fewer rests between exercises.
A 2010 research study, it was found that even doing gardening, chores, or stair climbing reduced the pain of those who suffered from fibromyalgia and improved their abilities to do activities of daily living. You don’t have to have a formal program of exercise to get the exercise your body needs.
Paying Attention To The Body
Your body will help you decide when it is okay to exercise and when rest is appropriate. This can be frustrating for those who were active before the diagnosis of fibromyalgia because you were used to just going for it and expecting the exercise to be easy.
Now you need to take it more slowly and pay attention to when the fatigue or muscle pain is telling you to take a rest. You can get the same activity done in several different intervals if you need to rest after a few minutes. Just go back to the exercise when you feel like you can begin again.
Don’t Skip Any Days
Unless you are truly sick, exercise works best when you do it every day. If you get bored of the same kind of exercise every day, switch it up a bit and do something different every day. You can walk one day, swim the next, or just garden on the third day. Anything you can do each day to improve your activity level will help move the progress forward.
If you choose exercise in the form of swimming, try to do it in a pool that is warm. The warm water will soothe your muscles and you will be able to do other exercises on the same day with less muscle pain. Even a hot tub treatment will help loosen the muscles before you exercise.
Exercise truly does help fibromyalgia patients no matter what their baseline level of activity was before their diagnosis. Start slow and try to do things you like to do so you will be more likely to stick with the exercise.