fm research

“Women with fibromyalgia spent, on average, 48% [approximately 8 hours/day] of their waking time in sedentary behaviors,” the authors wrote in Arthritis and Rheumatology. “Although they spent, on average, approximately 45 min per day in MVPA [moderate-vigorous physical activity], overall, these activities were not continuous for at least 10 minutes. Only 20.6% of women with fibromyalgia met the weekly PA recommendations whereas 46.3% of controls did.”

Further, the investigators found that only 16% of the women with fibromyalgia fulfilled current recommendations for the number of steps per day (at east 10,000/day), compared with 44.7% of the controls.

Women with fibromyalgia presented with higher weight, body mass index, and fat percentage, and lower height than controls

However, only 20.6% of women with fibromyalgia and 46.3% of controls met the 150 min/week of MVPA recommendation when the criterion considered bouts of at least 10 minutes of MVPA at a time of MVPA. Ten continuous minutes of MVPA “is the minimum required to provide some protection against selected chronic diseases and all-cause mortality,” the authors note. Women with fibromyalgia engaged in 70 fewer minutes/week of 10-minute MVPA bouts than controls, “which might be considered clinically relevant,” they state.

I have no doubt that this is true, but the fact is that exercising and Fibromyalgia is not an easy feat.

First of all, I would like to say while working full time I have an impossible time exercising. My pain levels are too high. My fatigue is immense after work. I cannot even comprehend how anyone would find this possible, except to a minor extent on a day off. I have tried for decades while working and never had any success for any amount except minor amounts on days off. This is just an impossible feat for me. I’m not sure about others but for me, it was a real problem. Work is my threshold for pain and fatigue.

While I am on leaves of absence and on long-term leaves it is different. I can Slowly work my way up from ten minutes of exercise every second day to 20 minutes every second day. I tried every day and ended up causes a back injury, so that was counterproductive. And the process of working my way up from that 10 min to 20 min is Months of consistent work. 6 months in fact. It is by no means an easy feat. I know this is not the same for everyone with FM. We all vary in intensity. And I have some issues with exercise due to also have hypermobility syndrome, but I know exercise is damned painful and it doesn’t stop being painful, so that is an issue. My workout was an aerobic exercise on a stationary bike and also a physio workout to help with developing muscles for the hypermobility syndrome stability.

And there was pain every time I exercised. It would hurt right away, quite a bit, then after ten minutes diminish slightly… so I would have to push through the pain for the first ten minutes of damned awful pain. Then for a bit, it stabilized to moderate pain, like a numbness settled in. Then the pain would climb again and when it reached a high point I knew I would have to stop… as that would be the cut-off point. And I would increase by essentially a minute a week or so.

Now working full-time is also painful and damned fatiguing. So you start off at a high point and are asking then to push through more pain to even get going from there. Assuming you are not also like me and have chronic migraines which are also at a high point after work… and trust me that does not agree with exercise.

I know that exercise is one of the major treatments for FM. And it does help with fatigue. Personally, I never saw any difference in pain levels as it caused pain. It did improve some mental fatigue and overall fatigue levels. However, it obviously has benefits for us all so a great thing to do. And has benefits with chronic pain conditions, so a great thing to attempt slowly and consistently. Just saying, not as easy as it sounds. Especially when one is already pushing through the pain to just work.

See more on exercise


Exercise is not evil: it is part of a treatment plan

Exercise for chronic illness
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One thought on “Women, Fibromyalgia, and exercise

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