- Focus on Secondary Condition Prevention: Decreasing Secondary Conditions in People with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Using Exercise
- Focus on Secondary Condition Prevention: Pain is a Major Secondary Condition Among People with Spinal Cord Injury
- Prescribed exercise in people with fibromyalgia: parallel group randomised control trial.
- Focus on Secondary Condition Prevention: NCHPAD Resources for Pain Management
- Obesity is a Major Concern for Youth and Adults with Disabilities
- Exercise a Pain in the.... Head?
- The Training Corner January, 2010: Avoiding Inactivity in Arthritis
- Getting Past Fatigue
- Effects of t’ai chi exercise on fibromyalgia symptoms and health related quality of life.
- 2008-04: The Wonder Drug: Exercise is Medicine™
- Community Voice: More Than a Diagnosis
- Depression and Physical Activity
- Exercise Guidelines for Clients with Lower Back Pain
- Fibromyalgia and Exercise
- Eating Well to Fight Arthritis
- Ai Chi
|Jennifer Rowland, Ph.D.|
Benefits of Exercise on Chronic Pain
Overall, exercise improves chronic pain by improving flexibility, strength, mobility and secondary musculoskeletal complications resulting from pain. Exercise can also help to control weight gain resulting from inactivity, which can contribute to painful joints (Hall & Brody, 1999). Aerobic and stretching are two types of exercise that have been shown to manage pain for people with fibromyalgia, although the intensity will depend on the individual’s tolerance level.
Aerobic Exercise Benefits
Aerobic exercise is characterized by activities that increase the pulse rate to between 60% and 70% of your age-predicted maximum heart rate and cause it to remain increased over an extended period of time. Age-predicted exercise heart rate is calculated by subtracting your age from 220 and multiplying this number by .60 (for 60%) and .70 (for 70%). Guidelines from the American Council on Exercise (ACE) recommend low impact exercise such as walking and warm water aerobic programs and warn against high impact activities (such as jogging or certain high impact aerobics classes) that may make symptoms worse. In addition to walking, other low impact aerobic activities include cycling.
Warm Water Exercises
Gusi et al. (2006) found that women with fibromyalgia who performed 12 weeks of waist-high warm water aerobic and strengthening exercises three times a week reported reduced pain and increased strength. The one hour exercise sessions included: 10 minutes of warming up with slow walking and mobility exercises, 10 minutes of aerobic exercises at 65-75% of maximal heart rate, 20 minutes of overall mobility and leg strengthening exercises (4 sets of 10 repetitions), another 10 minutes of aerobic exercise, and 10 minutes of cooling down with low intensity exercise. However, an important finding among this group was the return to pre-exercise pain levels once the exercise was stopped for a period of 12 weeks following this training program. This provides evidence of the importance of maintaining a regular exercise program.
How to Begin an Exercise Program
Resources are available at www.ncpad.org for tips on beginning an exercise program. These guidelines include:
- Start slowly, especially if you have been sedentary for a long period of time.
- Do your stretching after you have warmed up.
- Exercise classes sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation may be helpful in decreasing painful symptoms (local listings have information about pools and exercise classes in your area). For information about this, use the search engine on NCPAD’s website.
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