When you have fibromyalgia, sometimes it takes all your strength just to get out of bed and do your normal daily tasks. Being asked to exercise on top of that seems impossible.
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While it may be difficult to overcome pain and fatigue, it's important to keep moving. Studies have shown that regularly engaging in a variety of aerobic exercises can help relieve fibromyalgia pain and symptoms.
In addition to giving you more energy and flexibility—which can ease the fatigue and joint pain of fibromyalgia—exercise offers lots of other important benefits.
- Improve your mood and decrease anxiety
- Help you sleep better at night
- Lower your blood pressure and improve circulation
- Help you manage your weight
Here are some low-impact ways to get active that are a great fit for people with fibromyalgia:
1. Swimming, water aerobics, or water therapy
Being in a pool is great for those with painful joints, because the water offers both buoyancy and gentle resistance. You don’t have to be an experienced lap-swimmer to get the most out of the pool—many pools offer low-impact water aerobics classes that take place in waist-deep water. Also, those with limited range of motion may want to consider individualized water therapy sessions in a warm hydrotherapy pool.
2. Get walking
Adding exercise to your life can be as close as an evening stroll through your neighborhood. Work toward walking 30 minutes a day on most days. You can split up the time into a 10-minute walk at lunch and a 20-minute walk in the evening, if that’s easier.
If you need extra stability because of lower joint pain or slippery conditions, consider walking with trekking poles (known as Nordic walking). Or you can take your routine inside to a treadmill or elliptical machine. Many now come equipped with built-in TVs, so you can even watch your favorite program while you exercise.
3. Yoga or Pilates
Yoga and Pilates both involve a slow and steady progression of poses to help increase flexibility, balance, and strength. If you have range of motion limitations, work with your instructor to modify poses that are difficult. Many instructors have experience working with those with conditions like fibromyalgia, so ask ahead of time.
4. Strength training
Strength training, also known as weight training, is not just for bodybuilders. This type of exercise not only strengthens muscles, but it gives you better flexibility and more stability—especially if you focus on strengthening the core muscles of your abdominals, back, and buttocks.
You don’t have to join a gym or get a personal trainer to do strength training; you can do it at home with the use of barbells, resistance bands, or an exercise ball.
5. Tai chi
Tai chi involves moving through gentle, controlled poses while standing. It also encourages calm mindfulness. Tai chi is safe and accessible for just about anyone to do.
Don’t let a fear of exercising keep you from making the most of the benefits you can receive by being active. If you have questions, talk with your doctor about the exercise options that would be the best fit for you.