Question: Exercising and fibromyalgia

“How do I begin exercising with fibromyalgia?”

This is a very good question, by the way. Research shows that exercise does help with fibromyalgia a lot and it is a good part of your pain management strategy.

Okay, this is a tricky one. I know because I have done it the wrong way and the wrong way hurts like a … well, it really hurts. A lot a lot.

But the thing with exercising with fibromyalgia is exercise does hurt but it shouldn’t hurt a whole butt-load. And trust me when we go beyond our limits right away, we can seriously flare. So we must go slowly.

Doctors always say ‘exercise’ but they do not tell us the facts about that. The mistake I made when I was younger was trying exercise that I felt a normal person could do. And, man, I hurt. For over a week I really, really hurt. And so I gave up. It wasn’t until years later I did some research and tried again at a much slower pace. Starting just at the real ache. And stopping. And then doing that for a week and when it became easy adding just a little more. And slow and steady does work.

Here are some things I have learned

exercise for chronic illness


Most important things:

  1. You have to start very slow. Things like mild stretches and walking for short periods of time. We do not want to cause a flare or exceed our limits. It may now even seem like exercise, not what Others talk about. But it is your baseline you start with and it is very important not to push beyond that.
  2. Keep that baseline for three days to a week
  3. Then slowly increase by 1 to 10 minutes, depending on what you can.
  4. Slowly increase over time
  5. And then you can add things like a stationary bike or water aerobics once you have gotten your muscles and body used to motion. But again, using the same steps. Start slow and slowly increase.

Now when I started on the stationary bike I started at 5 minutes. And over six months worked up to 20 minutes. That can tell you how slow our increase and pacing can be. Now, I did it every second day. On my off days I did stretches but mostly it was to relax. Alternating that way I did not exceed my limits. And yeah that seems like a long time to get to 20 min but that is the level I was at. Your limit may get you there faster, or slower, there is no race in this.

You get benefits from it. More endurance for one. I could walk a lot farther once I had been exercising for six months. I had some mental clarity and it can help with our fatigue. It helped a bit with sleep.

But exercising always caused some pain so I always took an Epsom salt bath after and also made sure to take my magnesium. We will ache with just normal muscle aches and fatigue, which means a nice hot bath after really does help.

We do flare sometimes and taking an off day from your routine is nothing to feel bad about. Just get back to it after.

Any exercise is good. But if you can get up to 30 minutes three times a week that is a very good goal. It can take a lot of time to get there. Or a short time. It all depends on your pain level and level of inactivity prior. Slow and steady, my friends.

Other posts to check out:

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

Women, fibromyalgia and exercise

Exercise: Achieving goals is surprisingly painful

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6 thoughts on “Question: Exercising and fibromyalgia

    1. Oh it always hurts for me. I do believe that is because of my joint hypermobility syndrome… my knees (and the rest of me) is doubt jointed and it can cause a lot of pain exercising. So it always hurts but I stop before that alarm pain. And slowly increase from there. Which is why I am not fond of it. No matter what I get pain from it. I need one of those sit down stationary bikes that won’t hurt my knees so much


      1. But exercise will hurt a little especially when we have not at all and have FM due to muscle weakness. Normal people who exercise feel pain as well, and we are no different, but our limits are much lower. So finding your baseline where it doesn’t hurt is where you start and go from there, but we can’t expect no pain at all


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