Daily Archives: May 14, 2012
Since stopping work and being diagnosed with FM, I have increased my exercise intake (is that the appropriate word?) Each week, I do two hydrotherapy sessions, a tai chi class and I am testing out different yoga/Pilates classes to fill in two other spots. Along with that, I now walk (to the shops, doctors’ appointments, etc) every day. I have done all of this for two reasons – 1) I’m not driving so I have to walk; and 2) my doctors (as well as all the websites) told me to exercise. No-one told me why.
Has anyone told you why we need to exercise? (other than the ‘normal’ health reasons)
Most of us have much more important things on our minds than exercise, like painful tender points, deep muscle pain, and fatigue, so why is exercise important for fibromyalgia?
- Studies show that exercise helps restore the body’s neuro-chemical balance and triggers a positive emotional state. Not only does regular exercise slow down the heart-racing adrenaline associated with stress, but it also boosts levels of natural endorphins. Endorphins help to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.
- Exercise acts as nature’s tranquilizer by helping to boost serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the brain that scientists have found to be related to fibromyalgia. While only a small percentage of all serotonin is located in the brain, this neurotransmitter is believed to play a vital role in mediating moods. For those who feel stressed out frequently, exercise will help to desensitize your body to stress, as an increased level of serotonin in the brain is associated with a calming, anxiety-reducing effect. In some cases it’s also associated with drowsiness. A stable serotonin level in the brain is associated with a positive mood state or feeling good over a period of time. Lack of exercise and inactivity can aggravate low serotonin levels.
- A new study, at the Georgetown University Medical Centre in Washington, D.C., suggests that exercise may improve memory in women with FM. Decreased brain activity, due to aerobic exercise, suggests that the brain is working more efficiently. The researchers suggest that one of the benefits of exercise for fibromyalgia patients is that it may streamline brain functioning. It may help free up brain resources involved in perceiving pain and improve its ability to hold on to new information. The findings may help explain why regular exercise decreases pain and tenderness and improves brain function in people with fibromyalgia. (These findings were presented at a medical conference. They should be considered preliminary as they have not yet undergone the “peer review” process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.)
What Are Other Benefits of Exercise for Those With Fibromyalgia?
Regular exercise benefits people with fibromyalgia by doing the following:
- burning calories and making weight control easier
- giving range-of-motion to painful muscles and joints
- improving a person’s outlook on life
- improving quality of sleep
- improving one’s sense of well-being
- increasing aerobic capacity
- improving cardiovascular health
- increasing energy
- placing the responsibility of healing in the hands of the patient
- reducing anxiety levels and depression
- relieving stress associated with a chronic disease
- stimulating growth hormone secretion
- stimulating the secretion of endorphins or “happy hormones”
- strengthening bones
- strengthening muscles
- relieving pain
How Can I Get Started Exercising With Fibromyalgia?
If you want to start exercising, it’s important to start slowly. Begin with stretching exercises and gentle, low-impact activity, such as walking, swimming, or bicycling. Muscle soreness is normal when you are just starting an exercise regimen. But if you have any ‘abnormal’ pain, stop and call your doctor. You may have overworked or injured your muscles.
Are There Exercises to Avoid With Fibromyalgia?
There are no particular exercises to avoid if you have fibromyalgia. Aerobic exercise (running, jogging), weight training, water exercise, and flexibility exercises can all help. Golf, tennis, hiking, and other recreational activities are also healthful. If you have other medical problems or if you’re planning more than a moderate-intensity exercise program, discuss your plan with your doctor before you start.
Off to self-help hydrotherapy now…
- Hydro Harpy (fibromodem.wordpress.com)
- Fibromyalgia Exercises? What Are the Best Exercises for Fibromyalgia Sufferers? by Carol Ryland (drbradshook.com)
- Pilates Pleasure (fibromodem.wordpress.com)
- Pilates and Chronic Illness (jenlynn401.wordpress.com)