Fibromyalgia and Exercise
What Are Other Benefits of Exercise for Those With Fibromyalgia?
benefits people with fibromyalgia by doing the following:
- burning calories and making weight
- giving range-of-motion to painful muscles and joints
- improving a person's outlook on life
- improving quality of sleep
- improving one's sense of well-being
- increasing aerobic capacity
- improving cardiovascular health
- increasing energy
- placing the responsibility of healing in the hands of the patient
- reducing anxiety levels and depression
- relieving stress associated with a chronic disease
- stimulating growth hormone secretion
- stimulating the secretion of endorphins or "happy hormones"
- strengthening bones
- strengthening muscles
- relieving pain
What Types of Exercises Work Best for Fibromyalgia Symptoms?
Some new findings suggest that exercises such as walking, strength training, and stretching activities
are effective at improving physical, emotional, and social function. They also
are effective in addressing key symptoms and self-efficacy in women with
fibromyalgia who are also being treated with medication. Other studies point
to long-term aquatic exercise programs -- such as water aerobics -- as being
effective in reducing symptoms and improving the health-related quality of life
of the participants.
As you begin your exercise program, focus on three different types of
- Range-of-motion or stretching exercises. These exercises
involve moving a joint as far as it will go (without pain) or through its full
range of motion. Range-of-motion exercises or stretching will help you maintain
flexibility in your muscle groups. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist
about range-of-motion exercises. They can explain how to do these exercises
properly and give you some guidance if you have difficulty performing the
- Endurance or conditioning exercises. When you increase your
endurance threshold with cardiovascular forms of exercise such as walking,
biking, or swimming, you do more than simply strengthen your muscles. You also
condition your body, tone your muscles, and build coordination and endurance.
In addition, endurance exercises help with weight loss.
- Strengthening exercises. These exercises help to build strong
muscles and tendons needed to support your joints. Some studies show that
strengthening exercises may improve fibromyalgia symptoms. Be cautious not to
hurt yourself when doing strengthening exercises. A personal trainer or fitness
expert can explain how to use resistance, starting slowly and increasing as you
build your strength.
Can Low-Impact Exercises Help Flexibility and Stress in Fibromyalgia?
Low-impact aerobic exercises have been shown to improve symptoms and restore
muscle strength in people with fibromyalgia. Some helpful exercises
- Yoga -- an ancient form of exercise that can reduce
stress and relieve muscular tension or pain by improving range of motion
and strength. Practicing yoga for fibromyalgia when you are feeling tense or
anxious may help you reduce stress and the risk of injury when you are on the
job or at home.
- Tai chi -- a series of flowing, graceful movements that can give you
a good workout and stretching regimen. Studies show that tai chi participants
also increase their sense of balance, can bend easier, and are better able to
do household tasks. With fibromyalgia, tai chi can keep your back flexible and
- Pilates -- a form of exercise that focuses on breathing and
strengthening the torso muscles. With Pilates, an instructor will help you work
on postural muscles that are essential to supporting the spine.