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An estimated 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with a condition known as Fibromyalgia Syndrome (FS) and approximately 75% of these cases are women. Women with FS experience chronic flu like symptoms, which make it a challenge to complete simple daily chores, let alone exercise. But the reality is that exercise can help.

Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal symptoms including aches and pains, fatigue, stiffness and muscle spasms. Some other symptoms are mild fever, sore throat, painful lymph nodes, headache and sleep disturbance. The origin of FS in not clearly understood so treatment is directed at reducing the symptoms rather than reversing the underlying condition.

Women with FS cannot afford NOT to exercise, though many women who suffer with this condition limit their physical activity because they fear that they may exacerbate the symptoms. Appropriate exercise can stop the downhill spiral of de-conditioning, loss of function and resulting depression that individuals with FS may experience.

The key to a successful exercise program for those with FS is consistency over time. During periods of flare up itís all right to take a break, but just donít let periods of inactivity continue for a prolonged period of time.

Here are some exercise guidelines for safe exercise with Fibromyalgia

  • 1. Set modest goals aimed at preventing progressive de-conditioning, not at making large fitness gains.
  • 2. Start at a very low level of activity. Do not get discouraged if you feel increased fatigue for the first few weeks of your exercise program. It will get better, but you have to stick with it.
  • 3. For aerobic activity, walk or swim at least 3 times a week at a moderate intensity for 10 to 60 minutes.
  • 4. Incorporate strength training into your fitness routine using very light weights 2 to 3 times a week.
  • 5. Perform a stretching routine each time you exercise at the end of your workout.
  • 6. Work on slowly increasing the duration of moderate - intensity activity, rather then increasing the intensity.

With consistent flexibility exercise and aerobic and strength training conditioning, you will improve your functional ability and your state of mind.

Joni Hyde is a certified personal trainer specializing in women's fitness with over 13 years experience. For a complete home exercise routine under the guidance of a certified trainer, visit