One of the most maddening aspects of fibromyalgia is that different people experience various symptoms. There are some common denominators, such as ongoing pain, headaches, stomach distress and sleep disturbances, but beyond those hallmarks, my fibro may be very different from your fibro. This, of course, makes it tough to say with certainty what will or will not work to help relieve your symptoms.
Still, most experts agree that daily exercise or movement is highly beneficial physically and mentally and each one of us has a “sweet spot” when it comes to proper amount of exercise and which types of activities work best. While your mileage may vary, keep these general guidelines in mind:
1. Consider where you are now in your fitness
If you’ve been mostly sedentary and have (or had) a desk job all your life, you’ll do best to start out slowly and gently, perhaps with some gentle walking or yoga stretches. A person who has regularly run marathons would likely need to do more than that. Find your middle ground and slowly work towards improvement.
2. Choose non-impact exercises and activities
Because we Fibro Fighters typically have an amplified pain response throughout our bodies, find gentle non-impact exercise, like walking, swimming or Tai Chi. There shouldn’t be any jumping, pounding and twisting in your chosen activity. “No pain, no gain” is a myth!
3. Find activities you enjoy doing frequently
If you can find an activity that you genuinely enjoy, you’ll likely have an easier time working it into your schedule and you’ll stick with it over a longer period of time, reaping maximum benefit. You’ll get the most out of consistent, daily movement.
4. Find activities that fit your personality type
Are you a social butterfly who enjoys being around others? Maybe you tend to work out alone and prefer that? Are you more of an indoor person or an outdoorsy type? Love the water? Prefer to work out with DVDs in the comfort of your home? You may even like a combination of these things. The point is, don’t force yourself to do someone else’s ideal work out. There is no one right way for everyone. Find what works for you.
5. Compare = Despair
This one was a challenge for me when I was regularly doing Pilates group classes. I would get very frustrated that I couldn’t “keep up” with the rest of the class, even though that competition was all in my head. First, I was often comparing myself to people younger and fitter than I am and second, none of them had fibro! What a silly comparison. Then I would go on a pity party thinking of how much stronger and faster I USED to be, before the fibro. Guess where all that negative thinking got me? Nowhere fast. My advice is to keep your eyes on yourself only. What anyone else can or can’t do is not your business.
Do you have an activity or exercise that you find helpful? What works best for you? Please share by commenting below.