For many of us, the New Year presents a great opportunity to put aside the bad habits of the previous year and make a fresh start. According to a recent YouGov poll, getting fit is the number one priority on the Brit’s list of New Year’s resolutions.
If you happen to suffer from Fibromyalgia then starting the New Year with a new exercise regime may well be the last thing on your mind. It may feel counter-intuitive to push your body physically in any way, considering that fatigue and muscle ache are likely to feature heavily amongst your symptoms. However, whilst training for a marathon may, sensibly, be off the agenda: it’s certainly worth considering taking up some form of regular low impact physical activity. The potential benefits can make the extra effort really worthwhile.
What are the benefits?
According to the experts regular exercise can help to improve your fibromyalgia symptoms in the following ways:
- Increased energy level
- Stress and anxiety relief
- Pain Reduction
- Improved muscle strength
- Enhanced sense of emotional wellbeing
A word of warning:
Before commencing on any new exercise program, it’s important to talk your plans through with your GP or physiotherapist, who will be familiar with the particularities of your condition.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that the benefits you see may not be immediate, as professional rheumatologist Ronenn Roubenoff advises:
“Many of my fibromyalgia patients tell me their pain worsens when they exercise – particularly if they are just starting an exercise program. The truth is that you will have to stick with an exercise program for about six weeks, exercising two or three times per week, to start feeling or seeing any benefit.”
Bearing the above advice in mind, the Fibromyalgia Network put together the following handy checklist to get you started:
- Work with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any exercise program
- Avoid intense activity
- Think “moderate” exercise
- Understand your limitations
- Choose activities you can do and enjoy doing
- Start slowly in short increments of activity coupled with rest and build up slowly
- Stretch properly before each activity
Choosing a form of exercise:
If you are looking to try out a new exercise in 2015, our top three tips for fibromyalgia sufferers are as follows:
Walking is a low impact aerobic activity with the added benefit that you can do it almost anywhere, and it doesn’t require the purchase of any additional equipment. Not only is it a great way to get some fresh air into your lungs, it’s also reported to be able to reduce your blood pressure, improve your mood and strengthen your bones at the same time.
If you have a smartphone, why not think about downloading an app such as mapmywalk to keep track of the time and distance that you have walked each day. This can be a great way to motivate yourself and help you to set achievable targets for the year ahead.
Amongst the many reasons that swimming is a good choice for fibromyalgia patients are the following facts: it is non-weight bearing; uses all your major muscle groups and has great cardio-vascular benefits.
If you find the idea of doing laps up and down the pool a little dull, you might want to consider an alternative pool-based exercise such as ai-chi or water aerobics. Joining an exercise class is also a great way to socialise and get out of the house if you find yourself stuck indoors a lot.
Yoga practice is divided into three main parts that focus on breathing (Pranayama), postures (Asanas) and meditation (Dhayana). It is great for both the body and mind and typically involves:
“performing a set of physical exercises in order to build bodily strength, increase endurance, and achieve deep mental and spiritual relaxation.”
Yoga is particularly suitable for fibromyalgia sufferers because it can be adapted to your personal energy and stamina levels. It is said to offer a range of benefits including: improved sleep patterns, increased muscle strength and decreased muscle pain.
In addition, once you have mastered a few basic moves (providing you have a little free floor space), yoga can be easily practiced in the comfort of your own home.
Other forms of exercise recommended for fibromyalgia patients:
If none of the above forms of fitness appeals, there are plenty of others to choose from including: pilates and cycling; even doing a few simple daily stretches may help with your symptoms and general sense of well being.
Whatever your exercise of choice, do remember to consult your GP or physiotherapist before trying out anything new.
Is keeping fit one of your New Year’s resolutions this year? If so, what’s your exercise of choice and do you have any tips on how you intend to keep motivated throughout the year ahead?
We do not endorse any research, studies or sources mentioned within our blogs and comments. Furthermore, we do not endorse any medical advice provided, and would strongly recommend anyone seeking medical advice to contact their local healthcare provider.