Living With Fibromyalgia–You Are Not Alone!

As much as we have come to expect, or at least hope, for medicine to find the answers to our health challenges in a single pill or treatment, fibromyalgia may be too complex for a simple solution. The help we seek will come from many sources, including the resources of the body itself. Tapping into our innate healing potential takes motivation, will power and knowledge, but the results can be more than worth the effort… I would like to share some of the thoughts, other fibromyalgia patients shared.

I used to NEVER exercise, but I started going to physical therapy and was forced to exercise a little every day. It has greatly helped the pain and achy hurt of fibro for me. From 30 minutes or even 5 or 10 minutes a day greatly helps. I’m nowhere near physically fit, but whatever I can do I do to try to live a normal life again.

I stay one step ahead of Fibromyalgia with exercise. Prior to fibro, I was a gym-rat (between age 24-35). I was someone who was a card carrying member of the local World Gym in Waterford, MI, and I went religiously. I was in great shape physically, had healthy numbers, and also had great stamina.  Since fibro, my whole life has slowed down considerably, and I have become slightly deconditioned. My whole body is not free of pain and fatigue, however, exercise and correct diet has allowed me to maintain better health overall. My cholesterol levels have gone down, my blood pressure has been reduced to a safer level, consistently, and I have more energy overall. Exercise has reduced my pain, fatigue, headaches, stiffness and my mood is much better. Overall I am in a much better place because of my daily exercise.

Living with fibromyalgia isn’t easy; it’s a challenge for all of us. I received a diagnosis of fibromyalgia at 25 and was fortunate to be diagnosed within a year. I never was an active person, I walked, but it was never something I had to do. Today, my motivation has changed because if I don’t exercise, the pain I live with daily increases, my fatigue escalates and I can’t enjoy my life to the fullest. How does exercise help me? Well, it improves my flexibility, creates a sense of calm and well-being, increases my oxygen intake and I feel healthier, stronger and more relaxed. The greatest challenge for me has been insomnia and exercising helps me sleep which was something I could not do before I started a regular exercise schedule. Since I have been religious about my exercising, I have been able to cut back on some of my medications.

Walking has really helped me, even starting out doing five minutes a day and slowly working up to 5 miles a day. Also I use our community center heated pool and hot tub on a regular basis. Started going a year ago and exercising has really, really helped with my fibro pain. I’ve had fibro for over 30 years and have learned to exercise routinely 3-4 hours a week, eat right, and try to stay as stress free as possible. It’s not easy to follow these guidelines but it is a lot less painful than having a fibro attack!

Regular exercise has been a key to managing my pain. When I miss a week at the gym, I am in more pain and feel less energetic. It feels hard sometimes to exercise when you are in pain, but it really does help in the long run.

Prior to the onset of fibromyalgia I was an “exercise junkie.” I loved to exercise! In December 1994, I had an accident at work resulting in two shoulder surgeries and the onset of some chronic, debilitating pain and exhaustion. I was no longer able to work. I was also unable to stay on top of the housekeeping and daily chores nor did I have the energy or desire to exercise. I felt like I was letting my family down. I was 41 years old. I was miserable and depressed. My doctor insisted I start going to physical therapy. I agreed to go, there wasn’t much else going on during the day and it got me out of the house. I started with some gentle stretching. Slowly but surely the stretching became easier and I discovered if I stretch in the morning soon after I woke up, I actually felt better as the day went on. Soon after the stretching became easier, I started using the treadmill and recumbent bike on alternate days. This too was a struggle initially but as my stamina increased, I started challenging myself to reach new goals. I slowly (and at times painfully) discovered that my overall pain was decreasing. I became more alert – my head was clearer, my energy level increased and I actually began to look forward to my new daily exercise routine. Today I exercise (almost) daily. When I become lazy about exercising my energy level decreases, I get stiff and I do not sleep as well. My daily exercise routine varies so that I do not get bored. I incorporate stretching, light weights and aerobics. I am again an exercise junkie and so proud of what I accomplish everyday. I look good and I sure do feel good.

What is so hard about starting or sticking with an exercise program? Many if not most fibromyalgia patients have never engaged an active, exercise-oriented lifestyle. The thought of starting after what they have been through is daunting–or they have tried and failed. The most common reason is severe post exercise pain and feeling like they “ran a marathon” after only a few minutes of exercise. Perhaps you can relate to them?

Can you relate to any of the above comments?  Please share your story with us on your challenges/success with exercise.

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