The hardest part of living with fibromyalgia is learning to slow down. I could say this a million times (and probably will throughout my postings), but it still wouldn’t be enough.
One of the big frustrations that I face is getting in exercise. I’ve read the science, and I understand the benefits of exercise for
someone with chronic pain. However, when you are extremely fatigued, and the floor looks like it would make an excellent bed, it is hard to get motivated to exercise. It is also hard to want to hit the gym when you’re muscles are already screaming in agony just because that is what they do when you have “the fibs”.
I’ve been searching over the last two years or so for how to overcome this hurdle. I’ve tried lots of things from yoga to swimming to hitting the elliptical to personal training.
Yoga has been one of my favorite exercises because it builds strength and flexibility while keeping you moving (especially flow yoga). However, even gentle yoga can be a bit much to handle on days when I am fatigued.
I am still on the fence about swimming. The great thing about it is that it is so low impact, and it works your entire body. The bad thing is that many pools are not heated. Since most of us with fibromyalgia are extremely sensitive to temperatures, this is no bueno on the muscles.
The benefit of personal training is that you get individual attention, and the trainer can help you find the right exercise modifications to help avoid injury. The downside is that you have to look hard for an instructor who understands the nature of fibromyalgia and how to adjust your training appropriately. This is easier said than done and may require spending more money to have a specialized trainer.
My least favorite option has been the elliptical. For one, I get easily bored even though the ellipticals at my gym have televisions on them. Second, even though it is supposed to be low impact my knees just don’t seem to like the elliptical much (probably because of my crazy tight IT bands).
Today I was feeling reasonably alert, and my pain levels were low so I thought I would take advantage of it to get some exercise in. However, I knew that I needed to take it slow since I am still in the midst of a flare up (one good day does not mean the flare up goes away).
I decided to do the one simple exercise that I hadn’t tried and went for a walk around my neighborhood. Why I had never considered just walking kind of baffles me. It’s so simple. Perhaps maybe it seemed too simple.
I was by no means super athletic before I developed fibromyalgia but did dance some. I love the high energy of dance fitness classes, but I can only do them sparingly these days. Like I said at the beginning of this post, the hardest thing about living with fibromyalgia is learning to slow down. My mind still wants that high energy fun of Zumba class, but my body is just not ready for that at the moment.
The great thing about walking is that it is simple and efficient. So for now, I just need to slow it down and K.I.S.S.!