Fitness and Fibromyalgia

I dedicated the past 27 years of my life to fitness training. It is ironic that now most movement causes me pain. Maybe it’s payback for all the years I caused pain in my fitness participants!  Those days when they cursed my name sitting down onto the toilet because their legs hurt so bad—I’m here to officially say “I understand now what you were going through!”

Their pain healed within a few days and they became stronger over the years. I watched with pride as their bodies strengthened and moved with ease. Mine gradually got worse and it broke my heart to stand there using my voice to instruct them. I could not physically perform the exercises anymore, or the 15 classes a week, and I took a step back. At this time fitness and fibromyalgia did not go together well.

What I learned from my year and a half away from teaching was that it didn’t matter to my body what I was doing. I spent this time standing in place all day at a financial institution. Unfortunately, I was still in pain.

According to the University of Michigan, the pain from fibromyalgia does not do any damage. Really? Because some weeks I feel as if I have broken ribs or the arm strength of a 150 year old woman. But, to give the researchers credit, the next week the pain does travel to other areas and my ribs and arms seem fine.

Hmmm….. If the pain is only pain and is not doing damage, can’t I work through it? More of a mind over matter approach. Some days this works and others it doesn’t.

What does work for me is returning to my initial love- fitness. Instead of exercising the 15 hours a week, I began with 20 minutes a day. Even that was not easy. After a month, I increased it to 30 minutes a day. Most of those minutes were spent cycling on a recumbent bike. As the months continued, I was able to reach 40 or 45 minutes. A year and a half later, I am almost up to 60 minutes a day- depending on the exercise- but have been able to incorporate kickboxing, hula-hooping, strength training and yoga into my rotation.

I realize that fitness and fibromyalgia really do go together. When I exercise first thing in the morning, I feel better for the rest of the day. Plus, instead of spending an hour walking around in pain, the pain gradually eases with the exercise. Is it a miracle drug? No, but fitness and fibromyalgia are the perfect pair for me.


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