Topic Overview

Exercise is one of the most important treatments for
fibromyalgia. Regular
exercise will strengthen your muscles, increase blood flow to the muscles, and increase your endurance. It also may reduce the risk of
tiny injuries to the muscles that may cause more pain. Exercise may also help you sleep better and improve
your overall sense of well-being.

Mild to moderate exercise is appropriate for most people with this condition. A
balanced exercise program should include:

  • Low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking,
    swimming, biking, or water aerobics. This is the most helpful type of exercise
    for people who have fibromyalgia, because it builds general strength and
  • Stretching exercises, which can help relax tight muscles and ease
  • Strengthening exercises to build stronger muscles.

Moderate activity is safe for most people. But it’s
always good to talk to your doctor before you start an exercise

The key is to build exercise habits that you practice over the long term. Here are some tips for starting and staying with a
good exercise program:

  • Start slowly. Many people with fibromyalgia have
    been inactive for a long time because of fatigue and pain and should not start
    a vigorous exercise program. Overexerting yourself may make your symptoms

    • If 3 to 5 minutes of activity are all you can
      manage at first, just do that.
    • When you’re ready, try to exercise a little longer at a time.
      Increase slowly until you can exercise for 10 minutes at a time.
  • Build up your exercise program bit by bit, and aim
    for at least 2½ hours a week of
    moderate exercise. It’s fine
    to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and
  • Stretch before and after you exercise. This may improve
    flexibility, maintain good posture, and prevent injury. Stretch slowly and
    gently. Do not bounce, but keep a gentle pull on the
  • Keep track of your exercise by making a chart or diary that
    fits your needs. You may want to include what exercise you did, how long you
    did it, how hard you think you worked at it, and how you felt during and after
    the exercise. This will help you see your progress and will also allow you to
    advance or change your exercise program over time.
  • Stay with it.
    When you have a flare-up of your symptoms, do not stop exercising. Instead, cut
    back slightly. Try to build up to your regular routine as soon as possible so
    that you don’t lose any of the benefits you’ve gained.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Martin J. Gabica, MD – Family Medicine

Current as ofOctober 9, 2017