The physical condition fibromyalgia is typified by aches and pains in joints, tendons and muscles. This condition was believed to be psychological rather than physiological – it has now been established that significant chemical changes occur in fibromyalgia sufferers.
Fibromyalgia is not linked to injuries, disease or poor muscle repair ability of the body. Sufferers also do not face greater risk for types of musculoskeletal diseases – the precise cause of fibromyalgia is unknown but may be as a result of stress and pain levels seem to be more evident while resting than during periods of activity.
Exercise is an excellent way to decrease pain caused by fibromyalgia and in particular aerobics which helps reduce symptoms in sufferers while improving quality of life.
Aerobic activities increase pulse and respiratory rates – activities can be walking, cycling, running, and swimming however water aerobics seems to be more beneficial for fibromyalgia sufferers than other exercise types.
Aerobics increases muscle strength, decreases morning muscle stiffness, reduces potential injury risks, improves sleeping patterns and decreases pain.
Water aerobics appears to add more impact and value to exercise routines as it helps cushion the joints and muscles while supporting the body and increases resistance and workload required by the muscles to gain the desired effects, also promoting better balance, reducing pain perception and helping relaxation.
Any exercise program should be approved by a doctor who knows the specific needs and medical status of the person concerned. The services of a therapist or qualified instructor should be used initially and at a later stage it may be possible to continue alone with a program in a pool at home.
Begin slowly – 20 to 30 minute sessions twice or three times a week working towards sessions of 45 to 60 minutes. Be aware of any limitations and rest if fatigue is experienced during a workout by simply relaxing in the water – don’t ignore pain and always listen to what the body is saying.
Hydration is important while swimming or doing water aerobics – sweating goes by unnoticed in a pool and warmer pools will make a person sweat more – always remember to avoid dehydration.
Numerous studies have shown that fibromyalgia sufferers benefit emotionally and physically from water aerobics. Studies in Spain (2006) and Norway (2001) found that water aerobics improved patient’s emotional well being and physical functionality (beneficial in both short and long term programs).
Water aerobics will help fibromyalgia sufferers maintain better relationships with people they have contact with such as family, friends and employers as improved emotional and physical health makes it possible. Productivity at work also increases due to fewer sick days.