Maybe it is because it’s January and the beginning of a new year filled with promise and hope and… all those New Year resolutions, that the idea of exercise (or lack of it) works its way into our thoughts. Whatever the reason, it might be a good idea to review a couple of important tips if you have FM and are thinking about starting an exercise regimen.
It important to always warm up your muscles before you exercise by taking a hot bath, shower or sauna. A point that is quite often missed in people with FM beginning an exercise program is that their muscles do not rebound as quickly as someone without FM. FM research studies at the Oregon Health & Sciences University have shown that unlike healthy controls, FM participants do not produce growth hormone during exercise. This means it takes longer for normal exercise induced, muscle micro-trauma to heal in people with FM.
This kind of pain is what anyone who has not used a muscle for a long time experiences. For instance, if a person has not ridden a bicycle for a year, and they decide to jump on and ride 20 miles, they are definitely going to feel that exercise-induced muscle pain. But unlike people with FM, they will quickly heal and the muscle will become stronger without experiencing pain from riding the bicycle after only a couple more times of being on the bike. To help ward off some of that rebound effect for people with FM, taking a hot bath or shower can help make the muscles more supple and less likely to hurt as much after exercise. Even if the exercise regimen is yoga or another stretching program, it is still helpful to warm up with a hot bath or shower.
Never do any repetitive exercise for longer than 20 minutes at a time. This is because scientific studies have shown eccentric movement in repetitive exercise is what heightens the pain presentation for people with FM. If you have not exercised (nor moved) for many months, it is a good idea to begin a routine of only 2-3 minutes duration. Gradually add more minutes until you are exercising a full 20 minutes. Ideally, a person will then slowly build up to exercise 3 times a day for 20 minutes, topping out with an optimum daily total of one hour’s worth of exercise. Note: It only takes a short break-time between one 20-minute segment and the next to gain benefit from this process.
Warm water pool exercises are a good option for people with FM - (look for Arthritis Foundation’s warm water pool exercise classes in your local community including the YMCA and YWCA). Another tip is to use an aqua jogging belt to allow freer movement in the water. The buoyancy of the water helps soften the effects of hard impact exercise – such as walking – from being such a dilemma. Water also offers resistance, automatically making any exercise more effective. Just be certain to start very slowly and add minutes as you progress.
Written by Kim Bagato
"Exercise the Great Energizer" is an article written by Kim Bagato, a person with FM who shared her personal story about how exercise has helped change her life with fibromyalgia. The NFMCPA posted the link to the article on its Facebook Page, and we want to share some of the resulting inspirational comments left by our fans:
• Marlene – I attend warm water classes, it’s fantastic, really helps the pain and the warm water feels super.
• Laura – Yoga has saved me mentally!! But when I’m ina flare I’m too exhausted. Short walks are about all I can do these days.
• Peter - I’m starting Yoga next week. I know it will not be fun to start but hoping in the end it helps my flexibility and strengthens my core.
• Carla - Check out the Feldenkrais method of gentle movement education. I got the recommendation for Dr. Andrew Well website. Found a guild certified practitioner where I live and highly recommend it. Check it out. Known better on east and west coasts, but now coming into awareness in the rest of the country.
• Kate – I have been doing water exercise and yoga 4 times a week for the past 18 months. I still hurt by my body is so much stronger. I lost 45 lbs and eliminated 7 medications. I am 63.
• Dawn – I started walking every day and have noticed a difference. Started out with only a few minutes and then building-up gradually. Exercise really hurts but I’m pushing through it so I can benefit from the positive effects.
• Water exercise is covered under my insurance as long as it’s ordered by my doctor. It’s the only thing that I low impact enough for me. I go to a special Arthritis Foundation class.
To read more about what our fans have to say about exercise, visit the NFMCPA Facebook Page andclick here to read the full article.