Studies have shown that moderate exercise can help alleviate the pain, fatigue and anxiety associated with the condition.
Here are six reasons why low impact exercises are a great idea:
- Exercise has been shown to trigger a positive emotional state, through increasing serotonin and endorphin levels. Low levels of serotonin have been linked with fibromyalgia so a boost of these ‘feel good’ hormones can help reduce pain, stress, depression and anxiety.
- Regular exercise can reduce muscle tension and stiffness and strengthen weak muscles, particularly exercises that focus on gentle stretching such as yoga, tai chi or pilates. This exercise group is also renowned for the relaxing effect they have on body and mind.
- Exercise can help build up your health and stamina. Studies have shown that when fibromyalgia sufferers take part in regular low impact exercise, their day to day stamina can show significant improvement.
- Regular exercise promotes restful sleep. One of the most common symptoms with fibromyalgia are sleep problems. Many sufferers have difficulty sleeping through the night and don’t feel rested when the morning comes. Regular exercise can help promote good sleep patterns. Just be careful not to exercise immediately before you go to bed, or that will have a detrimental effect.
- Exercise supports a healthy immune system. If a fibromyalgia sufferer picks up a virus it can be much harder to recover from than the average person, so anything that can boost your immune system is a really good idea.
- Exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight. This is true for everyone, whether you suffer from fibromyalgia or not, however it can be very common for fibromyalgia sufferers to struggle with those extra pounds. There are a few reasons why weight gain might be common amongst sufferers, thyroid problems, inaccurate hunger messages can be sent to the brain and those with fibromyalgia may have a lower metabolism than those without the condition.
It is true that when you have fibromyalgia sometimes the last thing that you feel like doing is exercising, but research has shown that if you give it a go you are very likely to start seeing positive results. It can take a couple of weeks to start seeing the benefits but if you stick with it, it will be worth it.
So if you are looking to start a low impact exercise program, go slowly at first. If you decide to enrol in a class, make sure the teacher is aware of your individual health problems and go at a pace you feel comfortable with. If you are too conscious to join a class perhaps try to incorporate some low impact exercises into your routine at home to build up a bit of stamina first.
If you would like to start swimming don’t aim to swim a length of the pool on your first visit, perhaps just go to the pool and do some gentle stretching, floating and walking in the pool, then gradually build up to a few strokes at a time. Walking is another good option, but don’t aim to walk a half marathon! Perhaps just take a daily walk to the local shop, or find a friend who would like to gradually build up their health and go on small walks together, building up the distance as your strength increases.
Remember, always consult with your doctor before you start a new exercise regime. Many doctors can give you really good advice on exercise programs that are right for you, and can even point you in the direction of classes and people that can help.
Have you found that exercise has helped you with your symptoms? We would love to hear about your experiences, please comment in the box below.