I see many people asking which exercises are best for Fibromyalgia, and so I decided to do a post covering this topic. These recommendations are based on professional advice as well as my own experiences.
One thing that you really need to do is some sort of exercise. I am fully aware that the muscle pain and the chronic fatigue can often keep you from doing any exercise at all. This is very bad for your body and for your mind. Exercise is considered a natural anti depressant. It can also sometimes give you a boost of energy and I have sometimes found that it helps with my stiffness and muscle pain.
Okay so the exercises that you must stick to are LOW IMPACT. These exercises are less stressful on your body and easier on your joints. They can help decrease your risk of heart problems, they can improve your blood pressure and reduce your cholesterol.
Low Impact exercises are not low intensity. You should aim to reach a target heart rate which is 60/70% of your maximum heart rate. While doing this, you will burn calories.
The first exercises that I am going to cover are at gym.
Always make sure to warm up before doing your exercises. The following are considered low impact exercises:-
The rowing machines works out your legs, arms and core. It is an excellent all over body workout. It can also be scaled up and down in intensity. This exercise is good for strength and cardio training. I often use the rowing machine. I suggest that you use gloves because it can be quite hard on your hands.
The Elliptical machine takes the impact off all your joints due to the gliding motion. It is also a good upper body workout. They say that the heart rate and oxygen consumption on this machine is almost the same as running on a treadmill.
Make sure to use the bike on a low impact option. Cycling will get your heart racing and your muscles working.
All strength training is mainly low impact. You must work up a sweat and feel your muscles working. Don’t do exercises like squat jumps, rather go for static moves like squats, lunges, push ups, pull ups and core work. The circuit is good to do and it targets all the main muscle groups.
Various classes are offered at gym and the ones to do would be:
- Zumba. This is inspired by the Latin dance craze and is fun and energetic.
- Yoga. There is yoga for Fibromyalgia and I would recommend finding a yoga teacher that does this. Yoga has many benefits. It increases your flexibility, improves your posture, works on muscle tone and strength, releases stress, boosts your blood flow and caters for all fitness levels. Yoga can be more effective than physical therapy. It can reduce pain, anxiety and depression. There are exercises that teach to focus your thoughts, this can help with fibro fog. The meditation is great for keeping your mind in the present.
- TRX. This uses a suspension strap system. You can increase or decrease the intensity through the angle of the body. This is easy on the joints and low impact.
Always make sure to warm up your muscles before starting any exercises.
Low impact exercises at home
There are many low impact exercises that you can do at home. Make sure to warm up before starting. Here are some things you can do:
- Walking / Mall Walking
- Water aerobics with a kickboard
- Tai Chi
- Use small dumb bells for strength training
- Isometric Chest Press. Hold arms at chest height, press your palms together as hard as possible. Hold this position for 5 seconds and rest for 5 seconds. Repeat this 5 times. Aim to build up to 10 or 15 seconds.
- Isometric Shoulder Extension. Stand with your back up against the wall, with your arms at your side. Elbows must be straight. Push your arms back towards the wall. Hold this position for 5 seconds and rest for 5 seconds. Repeat this 10 times.
Start off slow and build up to 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week.
Household Work for exercises
- Mopping floors
- Washing windows
- Mowing the yard
- Playing with your children and grandchildren.
If you push yourself too hard at gym or with your exercises at home, you will end up suffering for days, if not weeks, as a result of this. You can do either of these to help.
- Wrap a cold pack in toweling and place it on the area for 20 minutes and then take it off for 20 minutes. The cold can ease the pain and swelling.
- You can use heat before and after the workout. This can ease your pain, stiffness and reduce your muscle spasms. You can use heating pads, heat lamps or warm baths. Heat for 20 mins and then off for 20 minutes.