It seems that many experts on fibromyalgia do not recommend intense cardio exercise. Perhaps the assumption that more jarring on the muscles will increase the pain. This may be the case for some people, but has not been my personal experience.
In general my favorite ways of exercising have been running, weight lifting and aerobic classes. When I began experiencing chronic pain I tried yoga, more walking and swimming. Before chronic pain, my philosophy was to make the most of my time and the more intense the cardio the better. When doing weight lifting, I would lean towards less reps and more weight, versus a lighter workout. I was surprised that yoga was not as relaxing as I had envisioned, much more physically demanding when my body wasn’t prepared for it.
Regardless of what exercise I do, if I push myself beyond my fitness level in any capacity I will generally experience pain later on. I have experienced this with running, walking long distances or with lots of hills, light or heavy weights, yoga, or even gardening. When I didn’t have fibromyalgia I would also ache the next day, but it feels more intense when I have fibromyalgia. My body can take longer to adapt to new exercises.
The advantages of doing a higher aerobic exercise is that the endorphins also help in reducing my pain. I have noticed that many times after a run my pain is drastically reduced for the 3-5 hours. I also have increased energy to do other activities and my mood is elevated. I have started to add some sprints into my run to produce more endorphins and raise my fitness level. Sometimes the increase in exercise may bring a crash if I overdo it.
Personally I prefer a variation of exercises to keep myself fit. I am trying to increase my higher aerobic exercise to keep the endorphins kicked in. Currently I am aiming for 5 days a week of running or racquetball (15 minutes at a higher intensity), as well as other strength training like weights and yoga. I find that warm up and cool down are important as well as icing and heat to calm the muscles. Lots of walking and stretching seems to help prevent more pain later.
Last week I checked out a book, Bring It, by Tony Horton on the P90X exercises. I have the videos on hold at the library, but it could be another 6-9 months before my turn comes up. I have heard many people rave about this program, and figured it could be helpful since the beginning routines are geared at 20 minutes of exercise at home. They have cardio, resistance and yoga routines. They have some great exercise routines for all levels of fitness. Though according to the quiz in the book, I am more intermediate, I thought it would be better to start at the beginner routine until I can develop the consistency. This is a great book for anyone as it gives great illustrations on different exercises and routines to follow. I put the page numbers for the exercises on a sheet of paper (don’t know them all by name yet) so I can quickly go through the routines. Having a book allows me to go at my own pace (longer or shorter) and tends to be more relaxing than a video. If an exercise is too painful I can modify or skip it entirely. I will eventually purchase the book for my own library.
Well I think I am awake enough now to attempt some exercise. I will start with a run/walk then maybe do some resistance training. Eventually I will need to find some time for the laundry piles and mopping the floors. When I figure out how to keep the house clean and exercise I will let you know. There is always tomorrow :).