As extreme tiredness (fatigue) and pain are 2 of the main symptoms of fibromyalgia, you may find that you're not able to exercise as much as you'd like.
But an exercise programme specially suited to your condition can help you manage your symptoms and improve your overall health.
Your GP or physiotherapist may be able to refer you to a health professional who specialises in helping people with fibromyalgia work out an exercise plan.
The plan is likely to involve a mixture of aerobic and strengthening exercises.
Aerobic activities are any kind of rhythmic, moderate-intensity exercises that increase your heart rate and make you breathe harder.
Research suggests that aerobic fitness exercises should be included in your personalised exercise plan, even if you cannot complete these at a high level of intensity.
For example, if you find jogging too difficult, you could try brisk walking instead.
A review of a number of studies found aerobic exercises may improve quality of life and relieve pain.
As aerobic exercises increase your endurance (how long you can keep going), these may also help you function better on a day-to-day basis.
Resistance and strengthening exercises
Resistance and strengthening exercises are those that focus on strength training, such as lifting weights.
These exercises need to be planned as part of a personalised exercise programme. If they're not, muscle stiffness and soreness could be made worse.
A review of a number of studies concluded that strengthening exercises may improve:
- muscle strength
- physical disability
- quality of life
People with fibromyalgia who completed the strengthening exercises in these studies said they felt less tired, could function better and experienced a boost in mood.
Improving the strength of your major muscle groups can make it easier to do aerobic exercises.
If you have fibromyalgia, it's important to pace yourself. This means balancing periods of activity with periods of rest, and not overdoing it or pushing yourself beyond your limits.
If you do not pace yourself, it could slow down your progress in the long term.
Over time, you can gradually increase your periods of activity while making sure they're balanced with periods of rest.
If you have fibromyalgia, you'll probably have some days when your symptoms are better than others.
Try to maintain a steady level of activity without overdoing it, but listen to your body and rest whenever you need to.
Avoid any exercise or activity that pushes you too hard as this can make your symptoms worse.
If you pace your activities at a level that's right for you, rather than trying to do as much as possible in a short space of time, you should make steady progress.
If you have fibromyalgia, it's important to regularly take time to relax or practise relaxation techniques.
Stress can make your symptoms worse or cause them to flare up more often. It could also increase your chances of developing depression.
There are many relaxation aids available, including books, tapes and courses, although deep-breathing techniques or meditation may be just as effective.
Try to find time each day to do something that relaxes you. Taking time to relax before bed may also help you sleep better at night.
Talking therapies, such as counselling, can also be helpful in combating stress and learning to deal with it effectively.
Your GP may recommend you try this as part of your treatment.
Better sleeping habits
Fibromyalgia can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep, known as insomnia.
If you have problems sleeping, it may help to:
- get up at the same time every morning
- try to relax before going to bed
- try to create a bedtime routine, such as taking a bath and drinking a warm, milky drink every night
- avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol before going to bed
- avoid eating a heavy meal late at night
- make sure your bedroom is a comfortable temperature and is quiet and dark
- avoid checking the time throughout the night