Fibromyalgia Exercises
Exercise Program To Reduce Pain

Recommended exercises for Fibromyalgia patients


Fibromyalgia Exercises


Can Exercise Help Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain?
Starting an Exercise Program
Best Types Of Exercise

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For an overview, see:
Fibromyalgia Guide

Can Exercise Help Relieve Fibromyalgia Pain?

Absolutely. Certain types of exercises can help reduce fibromyalgia tender point sensitivity, pain, fatigue and muscle stiffness. If you are overweight, losing weight by combining exercise with a diet plan will help you feel better and reduce the necessity for fibromyalgia medications. Although it may seem strange to talk about expending energy when you feel exhausted all the time, it does actually have an energizing effect. Doctors used to think that exercise might worsen symptoms in fibromyalgia patients and encouraged them to rest rather than exert themselves. However research now shows that aerobic exercise helps patients to control pain and to keep their joints and muscles loose. Also exercise can help increase serotonin levels, the so-called 'happy hormone', which keeps our mood boosted. This is particularly important for women because they are more sensitive to chemical mood swings during their period, approaching menopause, during pregnancy and after childbirth.

Starting an Exercise Program

Setting Realistic Goals
Regardless of who sets the program, be that the patient themselves, a doctor or personal trainer, an exercise program for someone with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) should be different to a regular healthy person. This is because people with FHS have a lower pain threshold and they become tired more easily. Too much exercise, too quickly can increase pain, rather than reducing it. So expectations should be scaled back. Choice of exercise is also important. Research shows that lifting weights can aggravate pain, whereas aerobic activities such as walking or swimming reduce pain.

Talk To Your Doctor
Always discuss starting a new program with your doctor, she may wish to give you additional advice suitable to your personal situation. Any natural therapy is usually combined with a prescribed fibromyalgia treatment plan.

Build Slowly
Start with 5 minutes a day and build by adding a further one minute once a week until you reach 30 minutes a day. If you choose walking or swimming, you can start with 15 minutes a day. One of the most frustrating challenges for FMS patients is knowing they used to be able to do so much more, and now some days it becomes a challenge just to get out of bed. Try not to become impatient and resist the temptation to pursue a pace of exercise you may have been able to do in the past. Remember you are taking control of your body and your condition. This will provide not only physical relief, but also emotional.
For advice on combining exercise with a healthy eating plan, read our article on the fibromyalgia diet.

Best Types Of Exercise

Walking is an excellent exercise for people with FMS. It is gentle on the joints, easy to start and best of all is free. Walk at your own pace and never try to keep up with other people. The following is a recommended routine from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute. After you have completed week 12 you can continue by increasing at the same pace until you reach 60 minutes, 3 or 4 times a week.

Walking Exercise Program

WEEK Warm Up Exercise Cool Down Total
1 Walk slowly 5 mins Walk briskly 5 mins Walk slowly 5 mins 15 mins
2 5 mins 7 mins 5 mins 17 mins
3 5 mins 9 mins 5 mins 19 mins
4 5 mins 11 mins 5 mins 21 mins
5 5 mins 13 mins 5 mins 23 mins
6 5 mins 15 mins 5 mins 25 mins
7 5 mins 18 mins 5 mins 28 mins
8 5 mins 20 mins 5 mins 30 mins
9 5 mins 23 mins 5 mins 33 mins
10 5 mins 26 mins 5 mins 36 mins
11 5 mins 28 mins 5 mins 38 mins
12 5 mins 30 mins 5 mins 40 mins

Any exercise carried out in water is always easier on the joints. One easy exercise is to walk the width of the shallow end of the pool several times, keeping your arms just above the water so they do not create resistance. Alternatively consider joining an aqua-aerobics class, most pools are offering programs these days. Always ask the pool attendants what temperature they set the pool at. As people with FMS are more sensitive to temperature (hot and cold), experts recommend using a pool where the water is set between 83F to 90F.

Whether riding a bike outside in the fresh air, or using a stationary bike at home, both are excellent forms of exercise to reduce fibromyalgia symptoms.

Tai Chi
Often recommended to women with arthritis, tai chi is a gentle form of exercise which allows a full range of muscle movement.

Nearly 11 million Americans practice yoga every year. Classes help a person to build strength, flexibility and balance. Stretching the muscles releases the buildup of lactic acid which causes tension, pain, stiffness and fatigue. Choose a regular yoga class; other classes such as ashtanga and power yoga are too vigorous for beginners. There are plenty of yoga DVDs available to buy online which you can enjoy at home at your own pace. You can start with 5 minutes a day and build up gradually to 30 minutes and then 60 minutes.

Another popular form of exercise, Pilates was invented by the German Joseph Pilates in the early part of the 20th century. 11 million Americans practice it on a regular basis. The slow range of movements not only builds flexibility, but also endurance, coordination and strength in the legs, abdominals, back and arms.

Related Questions and Answers Section
What are the symptoms of fibromyalgia?: Symptom-Checker, do you have more than 3 of the top 10 signs?
Is fibromyalgia genetic? Does it run in families and if so, how likely are you to develop the condition?
Can fibromyalgia be cured? Know the facts and learn about your condition.
What is the best treatment for fibromyalgia pain?
An overview of physical activity:What are the best exercises for fibromyalgia?

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Fibromyalgia Causes: From viral infections to genes.
Fibromyalgia Diagnosis: How a doctor will diagnose the syndrome.

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