The research is in: the best exercise for fibromyalgia is any at all. Here’s why.
Benefits of exercise for fibromyalgia patients
When your tender points are flaring up, your body is aching, and your joints feel like they are rusted shut, movement seems impossible. But doctors agree, and new research supports this fact: exercise for fibromyalgia can be one of the very best things for sufferers.
Besides lower pain levels, benefits of exercise for fibromyalgia patients include:
- More energy
- Improved sleep
- Reduced stress
When you’re not feeling so great, getting the body moving can seem like a near impossible feat. You may wonder how in the world you will move when you feel like a truck just ran over you. But research has shown that exercise is powerfully effective for reducing pain and improving quality of life. The type and intensity of exercise you do will depend on how you’re feeling. Working to overcome the mental resistance around exercise, however, will unlock new pathways to feeling good.
The benefits are so profound that some fibromyalgia experts say exercise is more effective at reducing the condition’s symptoms than medicine. Dr. Winfried Hauser, a German fibromyalgia expert, says:
“There is no magic drug against fibromyalgia, and in my opinion, there will never be…aerobic exercise is the most effective weapon we have.”
At the end of this post, we’ll look at some of the data-backed evidence on why the best exercise for fibromyalgia is any at all, especially one that you love doing.
Before that, let’s talk about how you can find the best exercise for fibromyalgia program for you. Before starting any exercise program, however, talk to your doctor to ensure that it won’t aggravate or exacerbate any existing symptoms.
1. Choose an exercise program you love
One of the most important things to keep in mind when choosing an exercise program is to make sure it’s enjoyable. Many people start working out and then stop because they dread it. Choose something that’s fun, that you look forward to, and that will increase the likelihood that you’ll continue to exercise.
Some of the best exercise for fibromyalgia patients includes:
- Low-intensity hiking
- Water aerobics
- Tai chi
- Low-intensity weight lifting or body weight workouts
However, it’s totally okay to think outside of the box. Maybe you love horseback riding or karate or Zumba. Pick the exercise that fits you that you’ll continue to love doing. Find even more recommendations in our post on the subject.
2. Get your blood pumping
Another important factor of effective exercise is that it gets the blood pumping. So if you take walks, try to walk fast enough to elevate the heart rate.
Of course, if you’re having a bad pain day or are just starting your fitness journey, do what you can. But ideally, the heart rate should rise so your body enjoys all the benefits of aerobic activity.
3. Start slowly
If you’re just starting to work out, begin slowly. Perhaps take a five- or ten-minute walk each night after dinner. Fibromyalgia sufferers can also incorporate gentle yoga styles such as yin yoga, which focuses on deep tissue stretching. Even adding small activities like using the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther away from the entrance to stores and shops can have a benefit.
All physical activity is good physical activity.
Starting at a gentle pace will also help you feel like fitness is possible, and not a torturous endeavor that leaves you sore or overly tired. It’s better to proceed slowly with constant progress than it is to start strong only to give up a few days or weeks later.
Low-impact activities like walking or bicycling are wonderful for fibromyalgia patients. They pro