“Or it’s possible that exercise just really does aggravate some cases of fibromyalgia.
And yet fibromyalgia is among the most likely of chronic pain conditions to benefit from exercise if you do it right. But what’s right? No one knows for sure, of course, but here are some evidence-inspired tips:
- Moderation, of course: either stick to the Goldlilocks zone, or only leave it for relatively short bursts. The conventional wisdom is regular moderate exercise, never too much or too little, but I think that’s a bit too simplistic. You may want to exercise intensely because it’s fun, for instance, but that must be balanced with more frequent and generous recovery opportunities than you needed back in the pre-fibromyalgia days.
- Timing is everything: as every fibromyalgia patient knows, there are good days and bad days. It’s important to minimize exercise on the bad days, and equally important not to pounce on the opportunity to get back to it on the good days.4950
- Aerobic or lifting weights? It doesn’t really matter — they both seem to work.51 Do what pleases you…
- Make it fun, make it happy. That may sound trite, but exercise may work for fibromyalgia not because of its familiar biological effects, but as a desensitization tool, a brain-changer,52 a way to demonstrate to nervous systems that the world is a “safe and good place.”53 This effect would also go a long way to explaining why one form of exercise seems to work well for one patient, and not at all for another: because its success depends at least partly on how we feel about a workout. “