MYTH: Exercise might accelerate fibromyalgia or worsen symptoms, so get more rest.
TRUTH: Regular activity helps:
- Control fibromyalgia & severity of pain
- Maintain strong & flexible muscles
- Burn calories & control weight
- Provide greater range-of-motion to painful muscles & joints
- Improve a person’s outlook on life
- Enhance quality of sleep
- Improve overall sense of well-being
- Increase energy, aerobic capacity & cardiovascular health
- Empower individuals to manage their health challenges
- Stimulate growth hormone secretion
- Strengthen bones, muscles & connective tissues
- Individuals stay active & functional in all areas of life
- Boost endorphins which help to reduce pain, anxiety, stress & depression
- Slow down adrenaline associated with stress
- Trigger the release of epinephrine & norepinephrine which are hormones that boost alertness
- Increase serotonin, a neurotransmitter which has a direct relation to fibromyalgia & affecting mood. Lack of exercise, inactivity & too much stress can lead to permanently low levels of serotonin. On the other hand, increased levels of serotonin in the brain are associated with creating a calming effect. Stable serotonin levels in the brain help to create a positive mood.
Get the Party Started!
When beginning an activity program, start slowly & consult with a qualified exercise professional. Begin with stretching exercises & gentle, low-impact activity, such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. Muscle soreness is common but if sharp pain arises, stop & call your doctor.
Flexibility/Stretching movements, which increase flexibility & Range-of-Motion, involve moving a joint as far as it will go, with minimal discomfort. Talk to your doctor, physical therapist or exercise therapist about which movements may be most beneficial & how to do these exercises properly.
Trainer’s TIP: Begin by holding each movement for only 2 or 3 seconds; relax then repeat for 5-10 repetitions. Exhale as you stretch through your Range-of-Motion.
Endurance exercise, which helps to enhance the cardiovascular & respiratory systems, include activities like walking, biking, swimming & dancing. Endurance exercises also help to increase metabolism, reduce body fat & condition the body.
Trainer’s TIP: Begin with short bouts of activity time. Listen to your body & do what you can tolerate. There is as much benefit from doing 10 minute walks, 3 times per day as there is from doing 30 minutes consecutively. Gradually build up your time & intensity until you can keep moving for 20-30 minutes without pain.
Strength/Resistance Training exercises help to build strong muscles & tendons needed to support your joints. Strength exercises may improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Seek a Certified Personal Trainer with experience working with fibromyalgia, to learn how to implement resistance training safely & properly. PROPER FORM is crucial! Strength training helps individuals to enjoy a strong, tone, healthy-looking body, while enhancing self-image & confidence.
Trainer’s TIP: Do exercises for every major muscle group. Do 1-2 sets per body part & alternate upper & lower muscle groups. For example, you may do a movement for your back, then one for your legs & repeat. You may do a movement for your shoulders, then your midsection & repeat. This is called “super setting” & is a great way to save time. While one muscle group is working, the other is resting. Aim for 12-20 repetitions to begin conditioning, with a weight that almost brings your muscles to fatigue. As you progress, gradually increase your weights & aim for 8-12 repetitions for greater strength.
Water therapy can provide a gentle form of conditioning & support your weight during movement to help alleviate impact on muscles & joints. Water provides buoyancy & mild resistance.