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Fibromyalgia and Aerobic Exercise 

Fibromyalgia and Aerobic Exercise

When it comes to fibromyalgia and aerobic exercise or any other type of fitness routine, we need to evaluate everything. 

If it's one thing I really dislike, it is when “blanket statements” are made in regards to exercise and/or the best types of exercise. Just like there is not ONE best diet, there is not ONE best exercise routine for fibromyalgia. 

Yet, there are specific ways to approach working out with fibromyalgia and its primary co-conditions.
As a trainer specializing in fibromyalgia, I have worked hard to not only create fibromyalgia safe exercise, but to work very individually to help more people stay consistent and be successful in their workout routines. 

Safe and effective exercise is well verified for fibromyalgia, but it must be done the right way. 

When it comes to fibromyalgia and aerobic exercise (otherwise known as cardio based exercise) we need to evaluate all variables first. This would include age, co-conditions, exercise history, and present fitness level. 

Aerobic Exercise and Dopamine levels 

Safe and effective exercise is one of the best ways to naturally raise our dopamine levels. These neurotransmitters in the brain are responsible for so many things like motivation and feelings of satisfaction. 

People with fibromyalgia might avoid exercise because they are already in pain, but we know with all the positive studies done, it is an essential tool. 

Sunlight also increases dopamine levels in the brain, so if you are exercising outdoors in the sunlight, now you are increasing those "feel good" hormones even more. 

Possible Pros and Cons of Aerobic Exercise

There can be both pros and cons to aerobic exercise, yet often times the negatives can be a result of overuse or over dependence. When done in moderation and with variety, this produces more good results. 

Lets look at the benefits of Aerobic Exercise first:

  • Increased blood flow throughout body and extremities (good for fibro and nerve pain) Read more...
  • Relieves Anxiety and Depression
  • Excellent for stress relief
  • Helps with digestion and transit of waste (Learn more about IBS and fibromyalgia here.)
  • Manufactures Endorphins (pain killing hormones)

Possible negatives of Aerobic Exercise :

  • Oxidative stress 
  • Overuse can cause stress on adrenal glands 
  • Possible stress on joints with higher impact sports
  • Using cardio/aerobic exercise to burn excess calories (purging through exercise) 

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Aerobic Exercise:

If you also have CFS/ME like some of us do along with fibromyalgia, you can still benefit from aerobic exercise. In fact, the right kind of aerobic exercise can increase energy and support the mitochondria (energy center of our cells) without draining the body and its reserve of energies.

In this article, I detail exercises we can include into our workouts and how to better manage
exercising with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. 

 Fibromyalgia and Aerobic Exercise Planning

First, be sure to always consult with your doctor before starting a new exercise program. 

When it comes to aerobic or cardio exercise, I like to start with five minute increments and work up consistently. If you have been sedentary for a long time, then starting slow is key, but consistency is also key.

Show up for yourself even when you don't feel like it, and you will always learn something. 

Whether you are walking, biking, or doing some low impact cardio, start with five minutes and then work up by five minutes every week when beginning any fibromyalgia and aerobic exercise routine.

I always ask my clients to keep an Exercise Journal. This also helps you to stay motivated. SMART goals mean specific and short term goals. Simply use an 8x11 notebook or whatever works for you.

Variety is the Spice of Life-and Exercise

One of the best things we can do is create variety in our exercise routines. This way, as I stated in the very beginning, we don't have to make blanket statements about exercise. We create a balance of Aerobic Exercise and strength training exercise. 

One of the problems I see is when people have very little variety and only engage in walking for instance. We must activate muscle in order to protect both muscle and joints. This can be done very safely. Visit the video section of the Fibro Fit People page at anytime. 

This is the best of both worlds. In our Benefits of Exercise article, we also detail a study from the Cochran Group regarding fibromyalgia and aerobic exercise.

. Here is just a part of that study:

Aerobic Training benefits for fibromyalgia:

  • overall feeling of well-being improved 7%
  • physical capacity improved because oxygen intake capacity improved
  • the number of active tender points was reduced by twopain was reduced 13%

For ongoing support, follow on the fitness page, Fibro Fit People.   

Fibromyalgia and Water Aerobics 

If you are interested in water aerobics, be aware of a couple of things. 

First, if your pool is indoors and heated, you want to avoid too much exposure to chlorine. 
Secondly, it is more challenging to keep your heart rate elevated in the pool, but it is a great place to start, and a great way to add variety to workouts.

Be careful of exercises in the pool that may put a strain on your neck, like holding yourself up in the water, or kicking your legs out. Be sure to maintain control of these movements, as the water can sometimes be deceiving. 

I like tools like the aqua jogger, which can be helpful to avoiding the fore-mentioned and helping keep your heart rate up just high enough to get a good workout. Look for it on amazon or online if you plan to make water aerobics a major part of your exercise routine. 
<3 Lisa. 

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