Exercise is very powerful. It is said that a medication that improves our health as much as exercise does would simply be the best of all.
However, if you have fibromyalgia, moving your body a few days is a great job.
However, fibromyalgia expert Kim Dupree Jones, RN, PhD, a professor in the nursing school at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland, encourages those living with the disease to open their minds and hearts to the positive effects of the exercise.
Dr. Jones and his colleague Robert Bennett, MD, professor of medicine and nursing at OHSU, have studied the relationship between exercise and fibromyalgia for more than 25 years, and Jones has written more than 30 studies on the subject.
She cites “impressive evidence that low-grade exercise improves the physical and psychological domains of fibromyalgia.”
Experts believe that exercise is essential to keep muscles strong and flexible, control weight and help you stay active in other areas of life. In fact, exercise and activity allow patients to have some control over fibromyalgia and the amount of pain they feel.
It used to be that doctors thought that exercise could worsen the symptoms of fibromyalgia or accelerate the disease. So the doctors encouraged the patients to seek rest, not activity. But recent scientific studies have shown that, for most patients, range-of-motion, strengthening and aerobic conditioning exercises are safe and necessary.
Aerobic exercises, such as running or walking, can help with many symptoms of fibromyalgia. A review of 2017 analyzed previous studies of aerobic exercises to treat fibromyalgia. The review found that aerobic exercise can improve quality of life, stiffness and pain, and can improve muscle function.
However, there is no evidence that exercise helps with fatigue. The review also classifies the quality of the evidence as low to moderate, since many studies use only a small number of participants.
People concerned about the impact of aerobic exercise on the muscles or joints should consider low-impact aerobics, such as swimming.
Tai chi is an ancient Chinese martial art that incorporates stretching and slow movements. It promotes awareness of the mind and body, so it can help with the physical and psychological symptoms of fibromyalgia.
A 2018 study found that tai chi supervised in the yang style might be as effective or more effective than aerobic exercise in controlling the symptoms of fibromyalgia.
Participants in the study received the greatest relief when they attended tai chi classes frequently and regularly. People who attended two classes per week for 24 weeks had the most significant improvements in symptom measurements as indicated by the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR).
That group saw an average reduction of 16.2 points in the symptoms. All tai chi participants saw an average symptom improvement of 5.5 points. A symptom reduction of 8.1 points is considered clinically significant.
Yoga offers gentle stretching, awareness of the mind and body and a slow and steady approach to physical fitness. A 2017 study found that yoga can help with many symptoms of fibromyalgia, including perceived disability, depression and fear of movement.
This study suggests that yoga could also serve as a bridge to other forms of exercise, such as aerobics, for people whose symptoms prevent them from doing more intense exercise.
Yoga is also very accessible, with classes offered at gyms and community centers in most places. Many yoga videos are also available online, including some designed specifically for chronic pain.
Studies have found that too much stress can lead to permanently low levels of serotonin. That, in turn, can create aggression. An increase in the level of serotonin in the brain is associated with a calming effect that reduces anxiety. In some cases, it is also associated with drowsiness. A stable level of serotonin in the brain is associated with a positive mood or feels good over a period of time. Lack of exercise and inactivity can aggravate low serotonin levels