I don’t like exercise, I’m lazy, there, I’ve said it. I was never any good at sports as a child, I wouldn’t come last in a race, but neither would I come first (too competitive, I know). In secondary school I developed cellulitis whilst playing football, I was picked last for netball as I hated it and didn’t hide the fact, and used the hockey sticks to whack other girls ankles or have sword fights! As an adult, living in London, I played tennis (well, it was more I bought the trendiest tennis outfits to pose on the court with, I was awful at the game, rarely could I even return a serve!). So I don’t enjoy sports, other than swimming, however, I have not got the broadest shoulders, so have never competed in it. I think I might even be allergic to exercise as it brings me out in a sweat! (Fnah, Fnah. Thank you, I’ll be here all week).
I’ve always believed that exercise is a key feature in losing weight as it makes sense; burn more energy than consumed = weight loss. I’ve even noted to have promoted my weight loss in the past when exercising regularly i.e walking dog, gym, swimming. I’ve also recognised that one’s health can be improved through partaking in aerobic activities.
When diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I was told that exercise would help alleviate some of my symptoms and build up stamina. I was also advised to be careful on the amount of activity done as too much would wipe me out and possibly trigger a flare. I felt totally confused as how was I supposed to work out how much was too much and how much was too little? Being so tired and confused, it was easy for me to think ‘I’ll do that later when I feel better’.
Of course, better didn’t come. The exhaustion stayed and it has taken me 2 years to finally realise I’m going to have this as a permanent fixture in my life, so I need to work around it. I’m also thinking that if I can do small amounts, surely it will increase my energy levels and I can move forward from there.
Walking is well known to be an effective form of exercise for many people. The good thing about it, as far as I’m concerned, is that it is free and you can do as little or as much as you like. The down sides, for me, is that; I get worried of walking too far on a good day, in case my legs let me down and I can’t get home and if it is raining or cold, I’m less likely to do it as it will intensify my symptoms.
I have a fitbit and I love it, it tells me how many hours sleep I haven’t had, I can input calorie intake and it works out how many calories I’m burning. It also counts my steps. Apparently, as humans in the western world, we should aim for 10,000 steps per day – I wish! I appear to clock up approximately 2500 to 3000 on an average day, less in a flare and a maximum of 5,000 on a brilliant day, which gets me very excited. This being said, however, I am regularly looking at my activity and the fitbit is helping with seeing what patterns appear to show linking sleep and activity, so I can plan more in the future.
I started rebounding last summer and I really love it, when I can do it. I have two beautiful dogs, who also love being on the rebounder at the same time as me, which isn’t really condusive to spending time working out on it. Because of this I’ve put off going on it on a regular basis, but am trying to think of ways to combat bouncing the dogs into the air!
Like walking, you can go at your own pace, I tend to rebound for around 5 minutes (if I’m lucky), but should be working towards 10 minutes at a time. I have bought my own rebounder, they are not the cheapest, but if you prefer to work out at home, they can definitely be worth it as they pack away quite well.
Aquarobics is another good way to exercise with fibromyalgia as your body is supported in the water, thereby taking less strain than with land aerobics. If you are able to find a good group, it can also be fun and a good way of socialising.
It will cost, but I have found that most places that offer it, don’t charge a lot for it. A point worth remembering is that cold water affects my symptoms, so I always ask for the temperature of the pool before entering. UK legislation recommends a pool should run at 27 – 28 degrees Celsius for adults, 29 degrees for children and 30 for babies and disabled. If my pool is lower than 30 degrees Celsius, I kindly let them know.
4. Tai Chi
As with rebounding, I started Tai chi last summer and loved it. Confession time, I only did it for a month then it slipped.
Tai chi is recommended for Fibromyalgia sufferers as it builds muscle strength without exhaustion as well as promotes balance and a meditative mind. It can cost, if you go to a class, but I found some great lessons on YouTube and found the space in my home was plenty big enough.
I will restart this exercise as I enjoyed it and through research, understand how it can be beneficial for me.
This one I haven’t tried yet, but I have read that like Tai chi, it is a beneficial gentle stretching type exercise which is not too exhausting.
Again, you can find a class to attend or find one on YouTube to watch and learn from.
As I haven’t tried it, I am not able to talk from experience, but I can tell you that I have heard that it can lead to the occasional bottom burp, in which case, trying it at home is a must for me!!
So, these are the exercises that I have read up on or tried and found to be beneficial for my fibromyalgia. I am also signed up to a gym, where I have been shown the best exercises and weight machines to use for my symptoms. I am just at the beginning of this, so I can’t comment on experience or results as yet, although I am quite looking forward to building my stamina, which I am told I should do. Please note, fibro is an individualised condition, where everyone can experience varying symptoms and strengths, so others may find different results from mine. Please let me know your experiences with other forms of exercise such as cycling etc. Thanks x
Some useful websites
Click to access What-Fitness-Training-Works-Best-With-Fibromyalgia.pdf
I was only discussing Tai Chi with a colleague yesterday, how did it help with your fibromyalgia?
I noticed that my balance and energy levels improved. In hindsight, I also believe my muscle weakness lessened. I keep telling myself to start it up again, I just wish I listened! X
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I really think I might take this up over the school holidays. It might help with my energy especially as I teach children all day. It is hard to start things, especially when you are fatigued a X in pain. Don’t be too hard on yourself for not starting again. Gentle Hannah 💜
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Thanks sweetie, all I can say is try it and see how you get on. It’s very gentle, so it doesn’t feel like you’ve run a marathon x