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    Fibromyalgia and Exercise

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    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. They include:

    • Yoga -- an ancient form of exercise that can reduce stress and relieve muscle 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 strong.
    • 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.

    Can Water Therapy Help People With Fibromyalgia?

    Yes. If you have fibromyalgia, water therapy may give you good results. Water therapy strengthens and conditions as you move your body against the water. Water supports your weight during movement, which helps reduce impact on muscles and joints.

    The water alleviates the force of gravity and provides buoyancy as well as mild resistance. Whether stretching in the water, using a kickboard as a floatation device as you push and kick, or swimming using slow, gentle strokes, water therapy can provide a gentle form of conditioning. That makes it quite beneficial for many people with fibromyalgia.

    How Can I Get Started Exercising With Fibromyalgia?

    If you have fibromyalgia and want to start exercising, it's important to start slowly. Begin with stretching exercises and gentle, low-impact activity, such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. Muscle soreness is typical when you are just starting an exercise regimen. But if you have sharp pain, stop and call your doctor. You may have overworked or injured your muscles.

    Are There Exercises to Avoid With Fibromyalgia?

    Usually, there are no specific exercises to avoid if you have fibromyalgia. Aerobic exercise (running, jogging), weight training, water exercise, and flexibility exercises may all help. Golf, tennis, hiking, and other recreational activities are also healthful. Discuss your plan with your doctor before you start.

    WebMD Medical Reference

    Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on April 02, 2014
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