Fibromyalgia is a painful and tiring musculoskeletal disorder that affects approximately 5% of people around the globe. The exact cause of fibromyalgia is unknown, but research into this disorder suggests that making lifestyle changes is an effective way to treat it. Treating fibromyalgia with exercise is one particular lifestyle choice you can make to help you manage symptoms and it doesn’t have to be difficult.
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How Does Regular Exercise Treat Fibromyalgia?
Exercise may not sound like the best thing to be doing when you are tired and in pain. However, research has consistently shown that regular exercise has a positive effect on fibromyalgia. The list below outlines some of the many ways that exercise can help treat fibromyalgia and manage the unpleasant symptoms.
Exercise Improves Your Flexibility
Two of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia are stiffness and pain. Regular exercise helps to offset these uncomfortable symptoms by improving the flexibility of your joints, muscles, and tendons. Not only does this make you feel less stiff but it also makes moving around less painful.
Exercise Increases Blood Flow
Another negative symptom of fibromyalgia is pins and needles in the extremities. Exercising regularly helps alleviate this unpleasant symptom by improving the supply of blood to all areas of your body, including your fingers and toes.
Exercise Stimulates the Release of Beneficial Hormones
Although no one knows the exact cause of fibromyalgia, studies have consistently shown that people who suffer from this disorder have lower levels of certain hormones in their brain and nervous system than healthy individuals.
Consistent exercise can help address this problem by stimulating the production of the mood-boosting, pain relieving hormones – endorphins and serotonin – which in turn helps treat the pain and depression associated with fibromyalgia.
Tips for Exercising With Fibromyalgia
While exercise is undoubtedly a brilliant way to treat fibromyalgia naturally, you do need to take care when formulating your workout plan. A poor workout plan will lead to poor results, and you may even end up doing more harm than good. The good news is that formulating an effective workout plan isn’t difficult and if you follow the tips below, you’ll have no problems putting one together:
Start Off Slow
The most important thing when you begin exercising with fibromyalgia is that you start off slow. In most cases, it takes at least a couple of weeks before exercising starts to have a noticeable effect on your fibromyalgia, and if you workout too hard during this time, you’ll cause yourself unnecessary pain.
Choose Low Impact Exercises
Another thing to bear in mind when exercising with fibromyalgia is that certain exercises are much more painful than others. For example, high impact exercises (like running) place much more pressure on your joints and cause greater pain than low impact exercises (like swimming).
By choosing low impact exercises, you’ll avoid additional pain and have a much more pleasurable experience when working out.
Consistency is very important when exercising with fibromyalgia. If you’re not exercising almost every day, it will have little to no effect on your symptoms, and you’ll struggle to make any progress. For the best results, try and fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise each day.
Create a Varied Workout Plan
Different types of exercise benefit your fibromyalgia in different ways. For example, cardiovascular exercises improve blood flow and offset pins and needles. Stretching exercises improve your flexibility and reduce stiffness. Resistance-based exercises increase your strength and indirectly reduce fibromyalgia-related pain by providing the vulnerable areas of your body with the support they need.
To get the maximum benefit from your workout plan, you need to incorporate all these different types of exercises and be doing each type at least once a week.
Top 10 Exercises for Treating Fibromyalgia
There are many different exercises you could choose if you have fibromyalgia. Here is a list of ten to get you started.
1) Bodyweight Training
Bodyweight training is a great way to build strength without placing excess pressure on your joints. This is particularly beneficial if you suffer from fibromyalgia since it doesn’t aggravate the symptoms while you perform the exercises, but it does provide additional strength and support to the affected areas of your body.
Some of the best bodyweight exercises include dips, pull-ups, push-ups, and squats. One resource is Calisthenics for Beginners by Pure Calisthenics.
2) Circulatory Exercises
Circulatory exercises are an excellent way to get the blood flowing in your body. This helps minimize the number of negative symptoms associated with fibromyalgia including pins and needles in your extremities.
There are numerous circulatory exercises you can do which include finger extensions, foot circles, heel raises, and wrist extensions.
You could even try the LegActivator – The Seated Leg Exerciser & Physiotherapy Machine.
Or the Sit and Be Fit DVD. This is also available streaming if you have Amazon Prime.
Cycling is a brilliant cardiovascular exercise that gently increases the flexibility of your joints, muscles, and tendons. In addition to this, it enhances blood flow in your body and promotes the release of pain-reducing hormones.
This is fantastic news if you have fibromyalgia as it can significantly reduce the pain and stiffness associated with moving around. Cycling can be an outdoor exercise, so in addition to the physical benefits discussed above, it also tops up your vitamin D levels. Studies have shown that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D (through regular exposure to sunlight) can significantly lower fibromyalgia-related pain.
However, if you have light or heat sensitivity, you could choose to use a recumbent bike and ride indoors.
Two options: Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike with Resistance ME-709 (an Amazon Choice with over 2000 reviews) and Stowabike 26″ MTB V2 Folding Dual Suspension 18 Speed Shimano Gears Mountain Bike
4) Isometric Exercises
Isometric exercises are a type of strength training exercise which involves tensing the muscles so that they act against each other or another solid object without actually moving. Like bodyweight training, it’s low impact and places very little pressure on your joints which makes it an excellent choice if you suffer from fibromyalgia.
Some of the top isometric exercises include isometric chest press, isometric shoulder extensions, isometric leg extensions, isometric calf extensions, and isometric squats.
Pilates is a type of physical conditioning that builds flexibility and promotes proper spinal and pelvic alignment. It’s a particularly beneficial exercise if you have fibromyalgia because the pain caused by this disorder often has a negative impact on your posture.
By doing Pilates regularly, you can improve your posture which in turn reduces the amount of fibromyalgia-related pain you experience.
A few options to consider: The Pilates Body or Full Body Pilates Total Body Fitness & Weight Loss by Kait Coats (Prime Video)
Stretching is one of the most effective ways to boost your flexibility. Improving your flexibility is one of the best ways to treat fibromyalgia and deal with the associated stiffness.
When it comes to stretching, there are plenty of stretches to choose from, and they can be used to target all areas of your body. Some of the best stretches include hamstring stretches, shoulder stretches, and triceps stretches.
Swimming is a relaxing, low impact cardiovascular exercise that also develops muscular strength. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, it’s one of the kindest exercises on your joints, and it also boosts blood flow and stimulates the release of pain-reducing hormones which can minimize the severity of the unpleasant symptoms associated with this disorder. Swimming in warm water can also provide additional relief from fibromyalgia by relaxing your muscles further and preventing pain and stiffness.
8) Tai Chi
Tai Chi is a slow-paced Chinese martial art which improves your balance, flexibility, and strength. Research suggests that it may also help you treat fibromyalgia by reducing pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
E Tai Chi (The Basic Book): The World’s Simplest Tai Chi (Kindle Interactive Edition)
Tai Chi Fundamentals for Beginners(Prime Video)
Walking is yet another cardiovascular exercise that’s low impact, gets the blood flowing, and induces the release of pain-reducing hormones. Like cycling, it’s an exercise you can do outside which means you get the added bonus of sunlight exposure and extra vitamin D. If you have fibromyalgia, this means regular walking can significantly reduce the pain and stiffness you experience and also minimize other unpleasant symptoms.
As mentioned before, if you have light or heat sensitivity, there is an alternative. You could buy a treadmill and walk indoors.
If you are going to walk outdoors, you might want to consider a set of walking poles to help with stability.
Yoga is a unique form of exercise that combines flexibility training, breathing exercises, and meditation. The flexibility of yoga helps combat the pain and stiffness associated with fibromyalgia directly. It also increases the flow of blood in your body.
However, unlike the other exercises listed above, the meditative side of yoga also helps you to mentally block out the pain and other negative symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. This makes it much easier to cope with fibromyalgia on a day to day basis.
Check this out. This is a towel that can also be used as a yoga mat!
Along with a healthy diet, treating fibromyalgia with exercise is one of the best ways to combat the disease. So if you’re not currently doing some form of physical activity every day, start building your workout plan now. It may seem painful in the early stages, but it will be beneficial for your fibromyalgia.
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Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Medical advice should always be obtained from a qualified medical professional for any health conditions or symptoms associated with them. Every possible effort has been made in preparing and researching this material. We make no warranties concerning the accuracy, applicability of its contents, or any omissions.