Pain and intense tiredness and fatigue are the main symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Therefore, it might be difficult for the patient to exercise as much as they would like. It is therefore important to have an individualised exercise programme tailored to their condition.
Patients with Fibromyalgia need to find a balance between periods of activity and periods of rest. They should not overdo or push themself too much because this can be a cause of flares-up of the symptoms. Over time, patients will be gradually able to increase their period of activity, but it is important to balance them with the resting period and to make steady progress instead of trying to do as much as possible in a short time frame.
Fibromyalgia can make patients feel that some days are better than others and it is fundamental to listen to their body and to rest when it is needed.
Overall, different types of exercises can help in different ways:
- Stretching exercises. They can increase mobility and reduce muscles stiffness, decreasing the perception of the pain. These should always be part of the training routine.
- Resistance and strengthening exercises. This form of exercise is beneficial for improving muscle strength, physical disability, depression and quality of life. They help muscles to become stronger and to be able to better support the joints. As well as helping to reduce the fatigue perceived by patients. However, these types of exercise need to be part of a personalised exercise plan in order to avoid muscle stiffness and soreness to worsen.
- Aerobic exercises. They can improve patients’ stamina and endurance (how long you can keep going), aiding in increasing the patient’s breathing and heart rate. They help to release endorphins and serotonin which reduce muscle tension and improve sleeping patterns and mood.
- Low-impact aerobic exercises, such as walking, biking or swimming seem to be the best option for reducing symptoms of Fibromyalgia. In particular, water-based exercises appear specifically helpful because they reduce weight-bearing stress.
- Yoga and Pilates. These practices usually combine meditation, slow movements, deep breathing and relaxation, which all help in controlling fibromyalgia symptoms and reducing stress levels.
Patients might find it helpful to start with gentler forms of exercise, such as yoga or pilates, before attempting more intense training such as aerobic or strengthening exercises.