Fibromyalgia affects an estimated 10 million people in the U.S. People with fibromyalgia experience symptoms like chronic muscle and joint pain, insomnia, fatigue, headaches and impaired cognitive function. Those with severe symptoms often find it difficult to perform everyday activities like holding a full-time job and spending social time with family and friends. Most patients try to control symptoms with prescription pain medications and sleep aids. However, if you have fibromyalgia, one of the best things you can do to manage your symptoms is to get regular exercise.
Starting and sticking to a regular fitness routine can help make your muscles stronger, increase your endurance and reduce your pain. Simple workouts like walking and swimming are great places to start. When exercising with fibromyalgia, the key is not to overdo it. Overexerting your muscles can actually make your symptoms worse. While fibromyalgia sufferers often find exercising uncomfortable and even painful, staying sedentary can exacerbate the pain. Do only as much as your body can handle and remember to take regular breaks.
People with fibromyalgia suffer from muscle stiffness. While this can make it tough to get going, stretching exercises can help increase your muscle flexibility and discourage muscle stiffness. You can practice stretching exercises while sitting, standing or laying in bed. Yoga is a fitness activity where participants assume and hold different postures that work to stretch the muscles. Since practicing yoga requires an element of muscle strength and control, it may not be the best choice if your fibromyalgia is severe.
Persistent fatigue not relieved by rest is another disruptive symptom associated with fibromyalgia. For some sufferers, the fatigue can be extremely debilitating. If you have fibromyalgia, staying fit can help fight off your fatigue. Maintaining a regular fitness routine can help give you more energy and endurance. Up-beat exercises like jogging and low-impact aerobics help get your blood moving and your heart rate up. Exercising early in the morning can help give you the energy you need to start your day. Exercising during the day also helps you to burn more energy, which can help you sleep better at night.
Fibromyalgia can be an extremely frustrating disorder. Sufferers often complain of feeling helpless and completely dominated by their pain and fatigue. In some people this leads to depression. If you have fibromyalgia, making fitness a regular part of your life can help relieve stress and depression, improve your sense of well being and help you feel more relaxed. Exercising pumps your brain full of mood-lifting chemicals called endorphins. If fibromyalgia has you feeling down, you may want to try tai chi. Tai chi is a type of Chinese martial art that involves performing a series of slow, steady movements and deep breathing techniques that promote tranquility, stress reduction and balance. Tai chi is a great choice for fibromyalgia sufferers, because it is a very low-key activity that helps strengthen your mind without straining your muscles.