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Fibromyalgia patients benefit from surprisingly simple exercise

Lana Bandoim's picture

A new study reveals that the path to reducing fibromyalgia pain does not have to be complicated. Researchers focused on a group of female fibromyalgia patients who were able to decrease their pain by simply walking. Previous studies have shown that exercise can have a positive impact on patients who are dealing with fibromyalgia. Now, more research backs up the idea that staying active is essential.


Decreasing pain through exercise

Researchers at the University of Iowa focused on female fibromyalgia patients and analyzed the impact of exercise on their pain levels. They found that increasing activity levels helped the women reduce their pain. Although it is not easy for many patients to stick to an exercise program, the benefits are too important to ignore.

Researchers recognize that fibromyalgia patients often struggle with the initial pain associated with a workout. Their stiffness, fatigue, aches, tenderness, cramps, spasms and other symptoms make it difficult to exercise. However, they still encourage fibromyalgia sufferers to try an exercise program and stay with it.

Evaluating activity levels

It is not necessary to find a complicated exercise program or create your own version. Researchers note that simple exercises such as walking are enough to reduce pain in fibromyalgia patients. Experts recommend low impact exercises for those who struggle with pain. They evaluated the women in the study by categorizing their activity levels. The sedentary category had women who walked less than 5,000 steps per day, the moderate category had women who walked 5,000 to 9,999 steps per day, and the vigorous category had women who walked more than 10,000 steps per day.

Based on their evaluations and patient feedback, the researchers found that women in the vigorous category had the lowest pain levels. They believe that staying active was important in decreasing their symptoms. In addition, they pointed out that women in this category were able to tolerate pain and reduce it on a daily basis.

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Muscle strength and flexibility

A different study has found that muscle strength and flexibility can also play an important role in pain reduction. The research, published in Arthritis Care & Research, focused on a large group of female fibromyalgia patients. They found that higher activity levels were also associated with less pain.

“Our results suggest that higher physical fitness is associated with lower levels of pain, lower pain-related catastrophizing, and higher chronic pain self-efficacy in women with FM. These results might have implications for future intervention studies in this population,” the researchers mentioned.

Advice for staying active

Most experts are aware of the difficulties that fibromyalgia patients face as they attempt to exercise. Their daily pain and fatigue can make walking seem like an impossible task. However, there are steps you can take to stay active and reduce your pain. The most important step is to find an exercise program that works for you, and experts suggest that walking may be the easiest.

Once you have selected the exercise program, then you may want to reach out to friends or family for support and accountability. It is more difficult to skip a day of exercise if a friend keeps sending you reminder messages or a support group keeps calling you. If your close friends or family are not able to help, then consider using a phone app or website that tracks your fitness levels and sends reminders. You can even set up alerts to stay active.

You may want to create a reward system for sticking with your exercise routine. Simple rewards such as watching your favorite movie or shopping for a treat can help you stay motivated. In addition, you will see the benefits of a regular routine as you exercise for longer periods of time, and this will keep you motivated.