Exercise: An Essential Part of Your Fibromyalgia Treatment
Even living with crippling Fibromyalgia I love to work out! Strength, cardio, stretching – you name it I love it! As a former gymnastic and dancer I have always been active, I have to keep my body moving as much as possible or I seize up and end up in bed for days unable to walk, in absolute agony and totally disabled. So keeping my muscles moving is vital to my health and wellness. It is a very hard challenge to keep fit with fibromyalgia, but as I have proved not impossible. I am still learning how to manage my pain, family, job and life and I know that this will always be a challenge for me as the fibro is never going away and the other arthritic problems could get worse as the years go by. So you might see me me in my gym clothes looking healthy but a few hours later I might be taking my codeine and in bed by 6, its the way you have to survive with this type of illness. To survive it you have to fight it, the minute you give in to it, you are weak and it will take over. You lose control of your life and it is a constant fight to know how to push yourself and not overdo it, even then it creeps up and catches you out leaving you wiped out, frazzled and exhausted. Fibromyalgia is a silent and invisible illness that has no cure, you have to learn to manage it – or it will manage you, leaving you lifeless and robbing you of your independence. My life motto has always been “pick yourself up and try again”, and this works for me no matter how long I’m down I just have to get back up! It’s a mind thing and I’m just so glad that I am so headstrong.
Why would anyone suffering from fibromyalgia want to think about Fibromyalgia exercises?
- helps restore the body’s neurochemical balance and triggers a positive emotional state
- boosts levels of natural endorphins — pain-fighting molecules
- triggers the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones that are known to boost alertness
- burns calories and makes weight control easier
- gives range-of-motion to painful muscles and joints
- improves a person’s outlook on life
- improves quality of sleep
- improves one’s sense of well-being
- increases aerobic capacity
- increases cardiovascular health
- increases energy
- places the responsibility of healing in the hands of the patient
- reduces anxiety levels and depression
- relieves stress associated with a chronic disease
- stimulates growth hormone secretion
- stimulates the secretion of endorphins or “happy hormones”
- strengthens bones
- strengthens muscles
My spin class experience
Recently I was asked by a friend to join her at a spinning class, her brother had just opened a new spin studio, Pose Evolution just a few minutes away from me. My first reaction was No Way! I had tried spin at Reynolds gym, and had been crippled for days afterwards. I was not looking to trigger a flare up, but as she explained that it was a beginners class with just her and me I thought perhaps I should give it a go. So I did and I took it easy, keeping the resistance low and guess what I loved it. Troy the owner/coach was amazing and made me feel so comfortable that I didn’t feel any embarrassment, or humiliation, which I had felt at Reynolds – No “look at the fat girl trying to to lose weight” nonsense, Troy is totally professional, encouraging and kind which really helps.
Say the word “exercise” to a person with Fibromyalgia, and you will most likely get a negative response. Exercise is a harsh and ugly word. It has become synonymous with pain to most of us. It’s hard work being an athlete, throw in fibro and it’s a whole new ballgame, so I was really pleased that with Troys help I was able to finish a whole session and am now fitting in as many classes as I can without burning out. Among other things, my rheumatologist recommended that I do light to moderate intensity cardio for up to half an hour 3 times a week. Apparently when you have fibromyalgia this changes the chemicals that your brain releases, and not just endorphins. I must say that when I hit about the 20 minute mark I start to feel a sense of calm and serenity overtake me and it continues for a while after the workout has finished. I really do find that these workouts decrease my fibro symptoms. I tend to be less sensitive (decreased pain, headaches, etc.) and happier when I manage to fit these workouts into my week.
People who spin regularly absolutely love it. Spinning classes are conducted on special stationary spin cycles where you can pedal very fast and hard and stand up comfortably and safely. Spin bikes are so much better than other stationary bikes (except for maybe a watt bike but that’s a debate for another time) because they are a more natural movement due to the wind resistance, and you can adjust the seat both backwards and forwards as well as up and down. Classes are often led by boot-camp-like instructors who bark out when to speed up and when to slow down. It’s an awesome workout.
Spinning is a cardio (aerobic) workout set to music and led by a certified instructor. Most classes last between 40 and 60 minutes, although some places offer beginner or intro classes that might be shorter.
Spinning is worth adding to your Fibromyalgia exercises, and is especially good for people who want a motivating workout that they can control at their own pace. Even if you’re not into choreography-based fitness classes, you can still enjoy spinning because it involves neither rhythm nor complex moves. It’s low-impact, so it’s very suitable for people who want to balance out higher-impact exercises (like running) or for people who have some joint problems.
Pose Evolution can be found at Unit B13 St Georges Business Park, Sittingbourne, Kent. Telephone Troy on 07824601803