Fitness Articles

Exercising with Fibromyalgia

The Best Exercises for People with Chronic Pain

  • Remember something is better than nothing. Just because you don’t have the energy or strength to do a 30-minute workout doesn’t mean that 10 or 15 minutes isn't beneficial, both for the physical benefits and for staying on track with a regular program.
  • Tell yourself that you can stop after a few minutes if the activity seems to be doing more harm than good. Often just getting started is the tough part, but once you get going it’s usually not so difficult to continue. So tell yourself to try—and that it's OK to stop if you need to.
  • Give yourself plenty of workout options. Not feeling so good today? Maybe a harder workout isn’t what you need. For days when a three-mile power walk doesn’t seem feasible, consider doing a gentler workout (such as tai chi or yoga) instead. Come up with a list of exercises that are available to you so that you can choose from many options depending on your symptoms and energy levels on any given day.
  • Think about how you’ll feel when you’re done. You know that exercise can help reduce stress and give you more energy to tackle other activities of daily life. On top of that, exercising consistently will help you reduce the frequency of your flare-ups. Remind yourself how you’ll feel after a job well-done, and use that as a motivator to get moving.
  • Get support. SparkPeople has an active community of people who are living with fibromyalgia and chronic pain. These support Teams are a great place to turn when you need motivation, a word of encouragement, or tips for exercises that work for people who share your condition.
Finding What Works Best for You
Because fibromyalgia symptoms vary so much from person to person, there’s no single set of recommendations for how much exercise to do, how often to do it or what type is best. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to listen to your body. Pushing yourself too much is going to end up making exercise a painful experience. In one study, 70% of patients surveyed reported that strenuous physical activity was a primary aggravator of their symptoms. So start with low-intensity activities, gradually progressing to moderate intensity as you see how your body responds and your fitness level improves. Know that some days will be better than others; but do your best to focus on consistency rather than intensity.
Although exercise isn’t a cure, it can be a tool to that helps people with fibromyalgia enjoy a less painful and more active life.
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

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