Exercise Programming for Chronic Fatigue & Fibromyalgia
Exercise Programming will vary depending on goals & severity of symptoms. In the beginning, aim for 30 minutes of physical activity 3-4 times a week, focusing on gentle dynamic flexibility & light core stabilization exercises. Basic exercises will help increase neuromuscular efficiency through better balance, posture, flexibility & core stabilization. Working to fatigue is not the objective. Mastering beginner exercises requires a lot of mental focus, energy & integrated strength, so that will be enough of a challenge!
As you become more comfortable with single sets of dynamic & core stabilization exercises, try short bouts of circuits including cardiovascular activity. This will work well with for CFS sufferers who tire after a minute of aerobic activity. Short circuits will promote training in a healthy heart rate zone, prevent boredom & fit a comfortable amount of programming into a 30 minute session. Combining these 3 types of exercises in a mini-circuit will also make way for improvements in cardiovascular endurance, postural equilibrium & flexibility, all of which will help reduce chronic muscular tightness & provide a foundation for traditional & functional strength work. Strength training should initially emphasize traditional & functional exercises with tubing, bands & stability balls.
Be cautious of using free weights, as they often put too much stress on already ailing & sore joints. Typical strength training recommendations of high reps (12-20) & low sets (1-2) of a single exercise to improve muscular endurance are unreasonable since repeating the same motion will likely over exhaust your muscles & joints.
If you have mild symptoms, programming may be no different from a traditional exercise prescription designed for a specific goal with exercise sessions lasting anywhere from 30-45 minutes. Programming for mildly affected exercisers should also focus on flexibility, core & functional strength. Cardio may be completed within circuits or alone for 10-30 consecutive minutes.
YOU are the best judge of your own exertion & comfort level with an exercise. Even though you may feel comfortable & strong enough to complete an exercise during one training session, your symptoms may be too severe the following session to even mange one single rep! Be patient & have fun!