Do you get sick of your doctor and well-meaning people telling you that you'd feel better if you got more exercise?
For those of us with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS), exercise is a big problem. Not only are we hurting and/or fatigued when we start out, it can make our symptoms a whole lot worse for several days afterward. Studies show exercise can alleviate our symptoms, but anyone with FMS or ME/CFS who's ever over done it (most of us) knows how debilitating that post-exercise crash can be. So doctors and healthy people tell us, "Exercise more!" and we respond, "I can't!"
I think part of the problem here is in how we define "exercise." That word generally conjures up images of aerobics classes, doing a weight circuit at the gym, or spending half the day on a treadmill or exercise bike. I can't handle that kind of exertion - can you? I'm giving 3-1 odds that you said, "No way!"
What we need is a new definition of exercise. I believe, for us, it should be:
Intentional movement designed to have a specific effect on the body.
No special shoes, no equipment, just intentional movement. For example, if I've done a few simple yoga stretches and a couple of core-strengthening exercises, I consider it exercising. I have to do those things regularly to keep my back functional, because of a joint problem, and when I slack off, my FMS symptoms actually get worse before my back does. The entire routine (if it can even be called that) takes about 3-4 minutes.
We all have vastly different ability levels, so you're the only one who can determine how much exercise you can handle, and what form of exercise is best for you. Especially if you have ME/CFS, you have to be extremely careful and take it slowly. Here's more on how to get started the right way:
What kind of exercise do you do? What bad experiences have you had, and what have you learned from them? Let's all learn from each other - share your stories here or in About.com's Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome community forum.
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