Exercise An effective therapy for improving musculoskeletal Pain

Studies show that exercise is effective for reducing chronic pain symptoms, improving functioning, and is critical in overweight persons for long-term weight management.

Exercise for a better life

Exercise improves your stress-response system.

Fibromyalgia (FM) and other chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions are characterized by a hypoactive stress-response system. Evidence has shown that exercise may improve this malfunctioning system by improving the balance of your stress hormones. In turn, you may experience better sleep quality and decreased anxiety levels.

Physical movement improves symptoms of chronic pain.

There is a correlation between weight and the severity of chronic musculoskeletal pain symptoms. Exercise helps you achieve or maintain a healthy weight. Being at a healthy weight puts less stress on the joints and muscles when you move around. Physical activity also improves stiffness.

Exercise helps you do more during the day.

Consistent exercise may help you increase your endurance and stamina to perform your daily tasks. Over time, it will become much easier to walk your dog, mow the lawn, or carry your groceries. Increasing your aerobic fitness can also improve your sleep quality and negative mood.

Staying active with fibromyalgia

Your body will get accustomed to exercise over time.

Exercise is much like an investment. One often needs to go through a brief but unpleasant period before feeling the long-term benefits of exercise--improved pain and better weight control.

Tailor your exercise program on what works for you.

Do you feel stiff in the morning but not in the evening? Consider taking a brisk walk in the evening when you feel looser. This may also alleviate your morning stiffness.

Do you prefer working out alone or with other people? Schedule your mornings to bike with family or set time alone for yourself.

Listen to your body.

The intensity of FM symptoms tend to fluctuate from day to day and even within the same day. If your symptoms flare-up, consider an exercise of lower intensity or cut the session shorter. Every exercise - no matter how small -will provide some benefits.

Combine therapies for enhanced chronic pain relief.

To enhance the benefits of exercise, consider practicing meditation or mindfulness to calm the mind. Sometimes your doctor will combine these treatments with trigger point injections.

Prescribing Exercise

initiating exercise

Close the "know-do" gap

We hear over and over how important exercise is, but statistics have shown that only 23 out of 100 Americans reach the US recommended levels for physical activity (PA).

It is easy to “know” about the benefits of exercise, but not as easy to actually “do” the exercise. This is what the scientific community has termed as the “know-do” gap.

Explore the ways to motivate yourself to exercise:

Busy during the week? Workout on the weekends.

Studies have shown that aerobic exercise performed over the weekend may result in the same overall benefits compared to exercise spread over the rest of the week. Consider making exercise a family weekend event when kids are out of school.

Take advantage of your resources.

Is there a park close to your home? Consider taking a bike ride there and back or driving there and walking through the park. Many communities and workplaces offer free or reduced rate group exercise classes. There are also many free online workouts available.

Build an active community.

If you prefer to exercise with other people, reach out to your friends or family to go on a stroll, hike, or even play a friendly game of ping-pong. Make physical activity fun but also social! Staying active with others also motivates you to accomplish your exercise goals.

Show self-compassion.

When you're just starting to exercise, having a bad day, or experiencing a symptom flare-up, you may feel discouraged. You may not be able to push yourself as much as you did yesterday. Listen to your body and adjust your workout based on how you feel. Your fitness will improve over time, but small setbacks are normal.