With fibromyalgia, you experience pain and stiffness in your muscles and joints. This pain can be very discouraging and may make movement and exercise a very unwelcome idea at first.
But there is something important to know about fibromyalgia and exercise. Study after study shows that exercise helps significantly to reduce pain. It also improves other difficult problems you face with fibromyalgia, like chronic fatigue and depression.
Exercise helps your body release more endorphins, which are natural painkillers. It also increases the hormone serotonin – known as the happy hormone. It relieves stress, decreases anxiety, and elevates your mood.
When you become more physically active, the quality of your sleep improves. These are just a few of the many proven ways that exercise reduces fibromyalgia pain scores and gives you more control over healing your body.
Does Soreness Mean Fibromyalgia and Exercise Don’t Mix?
While fibromyalgia pain is certainly disabling and uncomfortable, it does not come with swelling or inflammation. So the good news is that muscle and joint damage is very unlikely to be part of your experience with fibromyalgia. You can rest assured that you are working to fight back against pain (and fatigue, anxiety and depression), but not muscle injury.
Your Fibromyalgia and Exercise Program: Slowly, But Do Start
I recommend a very gentle but dedicated approach to exercise. We are not talking about training for the Olympics. You can start slowly and gently, and you can change your activity level over time as you gain strength and begin to enjoy results.
The activities I recommend include walking, yoga, golf, martial arts – activities involving fluid movement and low impact. You may want to work with a physical therapist to help you start (a brief video about that is here). More details about exercises to try and how to start is available in upcoming articles.
Have Faith That You Have What it Takes to Get Moving
Getting better with fibromyalgia does take hard work. And courage. Trying new movements and exercises, and then doing them is a process, not an instant cure. With fibromyalgia, I see patients who feel helpless at first, become braver and stronger, and truly inspiring as they overcome a truly daunting condition.
Feeling pain may tempt you to sit motionless in front of the TV and try to take your mind off it. But exercise is often the best real way to make a real difference in the quality of life you can enjoy in spite of fibromyalgia.
About Dr. Keller
Dr. Betty Keller practices integrative medicine at the Optimal Wellness Center in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. She is a board certified doctor specializing in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, weight loss, medical acupuncture and disease prevention, serving Franklin Lakes, Wyckoff, NJ, and nearby areas.