This blog site started because of the question: “Why did extreme exercise in the form of Bootcamp significantly reduce my fibromyalgia symptoms – what was it about that type of exercise (moving until you can’t move anymore) that fought fibro?” My theory was the release of chemicals/hormones that were in short supply or needed a boost in fibro patients. That’s still a possibility. Another is that the extreme cardio portion of the exercises allowed the body to pump oxygen more efficiently throughout the whole body, including to muscles and joints, etc. There are really quite a few possibilities, but none of them really got to the core of what causes fibro anyway? Since there is no definitive answer to that question (despite lots of theories), there is no real definitive answer to how to “cure” it or “relieve” it or why extreme exercise alleviates it.
Unfortunately, when bootcamp became more about lifting weights and the cardio component was cut back, my back and joints did not handle it. I switched to yoga, and found tremendous relief, particularly in my hips. And then I learned to swim properly and started swimming laps. While swimming is my favorite exercise, it is conversely the least effective. I walk away in pain and wake up in pain with lots of swelling, and the cardio workout I experience in the pool doesn’t actually build my cardio endurance like the extreme cardio exercises at bootcamp. I’ve now switched to doing Aqua Zumba once a week and try to swim/run in the pool on my own once a week. It’s fun, it feels good, but I’ve gained weight hand over fist over during this time, my cardio fitness is quite low, and my pain levels are through the roof. But I enjoy it, so I’m going to continue it.
I have to supplement it, however, in a quest to reduce both weight and pain. I am associating pain with my weight gain, particularly joint and back pain. It’s becoming very easy to say, well of course you hurt, you’re twice the weight you should be. Also, there are new treatments for sleep apnea which I don’t qualify for because of my weight, and I want to get relief from the apnea. So weight loss it is. I’m dealing with food issues in the Captain’s Log page and finding success with eating better by becoming more mindful about what I’m eating and “talking” about it – the Captain’s Log is like my food therapist. I’m also walking 10,000 steps a day. At first it seemed impossible, but just by changing a few habits I have been able to supplement what I was doing normally at work (a very large facility where you can’t help but walk) and get to my goal every workday. I don’t track steps on the weekend.
So I’m walking. A lot. Bottom line, it’s helping my cardio, which according to my theory will reduce pain, but it hurts. A lot. It hurts everything. Fibro flu is rampant. I’m exhausted, my brain is slow, and my mood is iffy. However, when I started yoga, I had a lot of the same types of reactions until several weeks in, and then one day, it was like someone turned on a light, and there was relief. I’m going to continue this, pain or no, until I finish up a “Greatest Loser” contest at work (ends in May, I think), and then see how I feel. That gives me a deadline to work toward and some goals.
I know I’m one of the very lucky ones to be able to even try different forms of exercise, and I’m always grateful, even when it seems like a very silly thing to do, to keep pushing on. It would be very interesting to hear what effects exercise has had on other people with fibro. Please feel free to comment!