Movement & Exercise: Best Management Tools for Fibromyalgia

“There are many reasons why people develop Fibromyalgia, but no one really knows. But we do know physical exercise as a management tool for this very debilitating condition, is key to controlling ones pain.” 


Let’s face the facts. Despite over four decades of the so-called “exercise revolution” in the United States, the traditional model for getting people more physically active (i.e., a structured exercise program) has been only marginally effective. In fact, recent reports from the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that approximately 70 percent of American adults are not physically active on a regular basis, and 25 percent of the adult population engage in no structured physical activity at all. To understand why people sometimes lack the motivation for regular physical activity, one must first acknowledge a simple yet important fact: exercise is time consuming. Therefore, structured exercise may extend the day or compete with other valued interests and responsibilities of daily life.

Fibromyalgia patients face an additional challenge–the initial increase in pain and stiffness immediately after exercising. Consequently, many mistakenly believe that exercise actually worsens their condition. In fact, 83 percent of patients who have FM do not engage in regular aerobic exercise, and most of those tested have below average fitness levels. Some sobering reports also suggest that many individuals with FM have aerobic fitness levels of healthy individuals who are twice their age!  Yikes!!

There are several things patients with FM can do, beyond relying on mere willpower, to maintain your interest in and enthusiasm for exercise. These include:

  • Treat pain arising from skin, muscle, and joints with pharmacologic agents, injections, manual therapies (e.g.,massage), and medicated patches (e.g., capsaicin), as appropriate, may increase the likelihood of a long-term exercise commitment.
  • Recognize the importance of restorative sleep.
  • List your exercise goals in writing and look at them frequently.
  • Use visualization. Keep your ideal body image of yourself in mind.
  • Make structured exercise a priority. Set aside a regular exercise time and don’t let anything interfere.
  • Decrease the likelihood of injury, pain, fatigue and stiffness with a mild-to-moderate exercise intensity.
  • Keep a record of your daily exercise achievements.
  • Exercise with others. Social reinforcement strengthens your commitment.
  • Participate in activities you enjoy. It’s easier to stay motivated when exercise is fun.
  • Work with instructors who have experience in working with FM patients.

At Gentle Pilates movement is done in a slow and controlled manner with quality verses quantity, reducing the possibility of over working  and causing pain. The emphasis on a full breath will benefit a fibromyalgia patient by reducing their stress level. Gentle Pilates allows the client to reap the benefits of exercise without the exhaustion of a typical strength routine.

Do you have any tips you could share with us on how you stay motivated to exercise? Please share them with us.

Signature - Sharon Ostalecki


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2 thoughts on “Movement & Exercise: Best Management Tools for Fibromyalgia

  1. thanks. i have tried everything for 3 years. various medications for pain(cymbalta.lyrica.nortriptaline celexa neurontin) have not helped made me more tired thus more depressed… although ritilin did help for the time it was prescribed with cymbalta! but new doc will not prescribe.. i use ice packs heating pads..CBT,physical therapy, meditation, massage, frequent baths helps a lot. Diet is good i keep a food chart..all meals are home cooked as i am too tired /pain to leave the house. i want my life back. i am 53. all tests say there is nothing wrong with me. been to rheumy, neuro, ID and pain hiv is under control for many years. the meds i took are harsh and left me with neuropathy in my feet, fibromyalgia /chronic pain/and CFS..i am so tired i can barely do a few chores. now i am depressed but learning to live with it..i think it is time to try ritiin or adderall again (i have read studies it helps pain through dopamine receptors.. as at least i can have energy to cook and bath and go to the grocery once a week..i want to go back to work one day. i have spent all my savings and have heard that a light dose of stimulants have helped people get some of their life back. I can’t lay in bed everyday anymore. I believe in nutrition and exercise and have done what i can for 3 years and this can’t go on like this. I need to get back into the world. any suggestions of things, meds i have not tried..thanks D

    1. Yes, I understand what you are saying at times living with Fibromyalgia, is not easy. I don’t know what medications you have tried but if you have a good relationship with your physician asked him to go over your meds and see if there is something he would recommend. It sounds like you are doing the best you can and it takes time for our body to heal.
      Wish you well, Sharon

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