Exercise can be bittersweet for those with fibromyalgia. Consistent exercise can reduce pain and other symptoms of the disease, but doing too much too soon can lead to days of intense soreness. If you're looking to begin an exercise program that won't leave you couch-ridden the next day, there are a few low-impact workouts you should consider.
Yoga is known for bringing peace of mind and increasing flexibility. For patients struggling with the symptoms of fibromyalgia, it may have a few added benefits. One study divided participants into two groups. One group practiced yoga regularly for eight weeks, while the other continued their normal treatment. At the end of the study, the yoga group noted a substantial decrease in pain and fatigue.
There are several different types of yoga—some are more fast-paced, while others focus on holding poses and meditation. For fibromyalgia sufferers, slower forms such as Vinyasa or Hatha should deliver the benefits of yoga without overtaxing the muscles.
Whether you decide to try swimming, pool running, or a water aerobics class, the pool is the perfect place to fit in some low-impact cardio. Water takes some of the stress off your joints—if you're waist-deep in the pool, your body is only supporting 50 percent of your weight. This means you can get your heart pumping and burn some calories without all the soreness the next day.
You can do a variety of workouts in the water. If you want to keep it simple, swim laps. If you're a runner, strap on an aqua belt or vest and run around the deep end of the pool. Many pools also offer aqua cardio classes, so if you're more motivated to exercise with a group, check and see what's available near you.
Tai chi is a very relaxed form of martial arts. Participants flow through a variety of movements and poses, focusing on breathing and clearing the mind. Typically, each person is encouraged to go at a comfortable pace.
One study looked at fibromyalgia patients after 12 weeks of regular tai chi. Patients experienced less pain and fatigue, improved moods, and a decrease in insomnia. Another study noted similar results, with patients experiencing a 12% decrease in pain immediately after tai chi sessions. Those participating in 24 weeks of tai chi noticed decreased pain levels overall.
Exercise can be a powerful ally against fibromyalgia. Work with a doctor (such as those from Urgent Care) to find an exercise routine that works for you.