If you have pain and aching in your neck, back, elbows, knees, and possibly everywhere else, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. But studies like one published in the National Library of Medicine have shown that twelve weeks of moderate aerobic and strength training could improve fibromyalgia pain and overall well-being.
Still, twelve weeks before you’re feeling better might seem like a long way out. Here are four tips for getting started and sticking with it:
Exercising may not sound like a walk in the park, but exercising can literally be just that: a walk in the park. Mayo Clinic lists walking as the number one form of exercise for fibromyalgia. If even that seems painful, start out with ten-minute walks and work your way up to thirty minutes each day, which can even be broken down into three quick ten-minute walks if you like. All you need is a comfy pair of shoes and maybe a walking buddy (with two legs or four).
If you want to take your walks a step further, learn some simple stretches to do after you finish. This will help you cool your muscles down, avoid injury, and increase your flexibility and range of motion. If stretching hurts, you are doing it wrong, so talk to a healthcare provider or fitness instructor who can show you the proper way to stretch.
Find something you enjoy
Fitting exercise into your day becomes more enjoyable when you are doing something you have fun doing. If you don’t like running and doing sit-ups, don’t run and do sit-ups. Try out yoga, Zumba, water aerobics, a local tennis league, or any other activity that seems exciting to you. There are so many options. If some yoga poses or Zumba moves seem like they will be too much for you, arrive at your class a little early and ask your instructor for ways to modify those movements so you won’t be in pain.
Re-think working out
Exercising to decrease your fibromyalgia symptoms doesn’t have to mean gym time. Chores can count as exercise. Yup, your house can sparkle, and you can work your way toward feeling better at the same time. According to a study published in Arthritis Research and Therapy, spending 30 minutes a day vacuuming, scrubbing, gardening, or mopping could help you feel less pain and function better. You probably already want to keep the house looking nice, so throw yourself into your chores and make your house shine while helping decrease your symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Find a way to make it stick
Your symptoms probably aren’t going to go away after just a week of fitting more exercise and movement into your life. You have to keep at it, and results may come over time. Find a way to encourage persistence. You might try finding an exercise buddy who can keep you motivated, hiring a personal trainer so you have little choice but to show up for sessions as expected, or rewarding yourself every time you get all of your exercises in for the week or the month.
It may seem daunting to add another commitment to what is probably already a busy life, but remember that exercise may be able to reduce your pain and help you do everything else you want to do a little more easily.