Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness affecting approximately 2-4% of the general population. People living with Fibromyalgia may be diagnosed due to symptoms such as chronic widespread pain, sleep problems, difficulty with cognitive processing and increased fatigue or exhaustion. These symptoms can impact sufferers' mental and social health, further challenging day-to-day life. While exercise is beneficial for people living with fibromyalgia, many different forms of exercise can be completed to help manage symptoms and promote increased function.
Moderate aerobic exercise, which may include brisk walking, steady cycling or mild aerobics classes can help to manage symptoms of depression and promote better mental health for sufferers. While resistance-based exercise, including using weight machines or bodyweight has shown to help manage pain and promote increased physical function in fibromyalgia sufferers. Alternatively, water-based exercise can also help to manage pain and depression symptoms, while also improving overall health and body function. Gentle forms of exercise such as yoga, tai chi and pilates can also be beneficial.
Individuals living with fibromyalgia will likely prefer different types of exercise and activity depending on their individual symptoms, recovery and overall goals. Guidelines recommend 2-3 sessions of up to 60 minutes per week across any of the suitable types of exercise. Fibromyalgia sufferers may experience increased muscle soreness and therefore a delayed recovery time post-exercise. So for those beginning new forms of exercise or starting exercise again after a period of reduced activity; it is important to build up the total amount of exercise slowly. While also monitoring how the body is recovering from exercise to ensure adequate rest and avoidance of major flare-ups. Anyone living with Fibromyalgia and requiring assistance with exercise or activity may benefit from seeing a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist for further guidance.