Exercise Benefits for Fibromyalgia
A common factor seen with exercise is the ability of it to boost serotonin levels. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and wellbeing and helps to regulate anxiety. Serotonin also plays a strong potential role in pain and pain management for Fibromyalgia, and an increase in serotonin levels naturally has the ability to reduce pain in a similar way that drugs such as Cymbalta (and many other antidepressants) do. The natural release of additional serotonin acts as a numbing agent or tranquilizer to the pain signals being sent, thus reducing the level of pain for the patient in the long run. As with the pharmaceuticals that produce this effect, exercise also requires time and consistency to produce these effects. Studies have also shown that exercise releases epinephrine and norepinephrine, both of which are associated with alertness, and can improve the depressive or mood related symptoms in Fibromyalgia patients.
There are additional lifestyle benefits that exercise provides that may not impact a primary source of complaint, such as directly impacting pain, but these benefits may produce tertiary effects that impact the overall quality of life of the patient, and may have a secondary impact on another area that does benefit the patient, such as weight loss increasing the ease of ongoing exercise, making it easier for the patient to continue. Exercise, and the related neurochemical changes it produces have been found to improve sleep patterns, as well as improving energy, cardiovascular health, reducing anxiety or depression, increasing range of motion in muscles and joints, and generally improving the patient’s outlook and mental wellbeing.
As with many chronic pain disorders, Fibromyalgia requires a guided and structured exercise regime to allow for a minimal amount of stress on muscles and joints to limit aggravation and inflammation. Low impact options for activity such as yoga, tai chi, and water based exercises that provide additional support for the body are all recommended as starting points when trying to add exercise to benefit from the boosts in serotonin to aid in pain management. A positive cycle of exercise increasing serotonin levels, reducing pain and allowing for more exercise and activity can provide a huge improvement in the overall lifestyle and both physical and mental wellbeing for Fibromyalgia patients.