Exercise for Fibromyalgia

Exercise for Fibromyalgia

By Megan Densmore.

I have had a confirmed case of Fibromyalgia for 20 years. I have been in what I would consider to be remission for 6 of those years. Exercise and movement in general have played a huge role in my getting to this point and staying here.

From the beginning I made a commitment to treating my symptoms naturally which meant educating myself on every possible way of doing that. Exercise was a perfect first step because I was a multi-sport athlete, competitive gymnast and ballerina prior to being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in my early teens.

My curiosity about how to exercise intelligently with Fibromyalgia started well before I received any formal fitness education. Every doctor I have ever talked to about Fibromyalgia (and there have been many!) has agreed that movement has a positive impact on many, if not all, of the varied symptoms we deal with. In honor of that I want to give my top ten tips for navigating the fitness maze with Fibromyalgia:

  1. Get curious
  2. See your sensitive system as a gift
  3. Start small
  4. Be process focused instead of goal oriented
  5. Choose opportunities to educate yourself about exercise in general and how your system responds to it
  6. Know what you like and what you don’t like - the best exercise is the exercise you will DO!
  7. Focus on movements that increase both mobility and stability in the joints while in motion and avoid holding any one position for very long
  8. Whatever exercise you do, you should be able to recover from it within a few hours or at the longest 24 hours
  9. Think of movement as a gift you are giving your body to keep it happy and healthy instead of something you must do as a chore or in order to force your body into weight loss or other aesthetic goals (you might achieve these along the way with more ease than you can imagine!)
  10. Be in the moment while moving and in your body - increasing your body awareness and getting in tune with all of the amazing clues and signals your body gives you is the key to enjoying movement again!

After over a decade of helping myself and my one on one clients in NYC manage their chronic pain through movement, it is time for me to share that knowledge forward in a bigger way with the Fibromyalgia community! With that in mind I created a one year online workout education course called Zero to Hero. This program brings all of the above tips into play and most importantly it helps you gain the knowledge of how your joints and muscles work and respond to movement in general so that you complete the program better able to apply your knowledge throughout your life. This might mean easing back into whatever you loved to do for exercise prior to your diagnosis but this time with a better idea of how to warm-up and of the signals your body gives you in advance of over doing it.

The better we know our bodies and the physiological warning signs the better we can make the best choices for us! As we get in the habit of making those choices and get more confident in our skills, everything seems to get better. It may have taken me almost 15 years but I have been able to get back to being an athlete. It just looks differently than it did before and I have to be much smarter about warming up, my recovery, nutrition and sleep. Maybe for you it isn’t about sports or even about fitness, maybe it is about being able to sightsee with your family on vacation or not being the one on the sidelines holding the coats on an active outing with friends. It may take more time than you can wrap your head around, but I do believe developing your own personal movement plan is absolutely possible and an excellent use of your time and very limited energy.

Megan Densmore

Certified Pilates Instructor - Creator Zero to Hero Workout Program - Producer Invisible: The Film


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Authored by: Megan Densmore

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Aye tis yon answer for some but no for all of us, but we will be lumped in yon same box….we do need to band together…we are being classified as none persons whose voices no count.


I may have fibrositis, myofascial pain syndrome, or fibromyalgia- it depends on who is treating me. I have diagnosed problems with my C, T, L, S & SI joints. Episodes of extreme pain recur - solved with oral prednisone. I exercise daily in a warm pool.

Dee from Canada

I also have fibro. Diagnosed with systemic R. Arthritis at 28 but my blood work never showed arthritis. 30 year later fibro comes along and lo and behold that’s what it was all along. I have been in pain most of my adult life but just used NSAIDS and Tylenol and my stubbornness to continue on with my life. The last 10 years have I have been helped immensely by the use of Opiods. I only took 4 a day and never increased the dose in these 10 years. Now my doc insists that I go off them. I do not abuse them. The rest of us of suffer with chronic pain should rise up and revolt.
Can we not come together online and try to fight this. Let’s do it.

Debbie Gordon

Excellent article Megan!! I totally agree with you😊! Baby steps to moving and feeling better! I also was a gymnast when young.. am now 65, have been diagnosed with Fibro for 10 years. There’s days when any little exercise hurts, so I know my own limits. But on days I hurt less I do what I can and it helps! Little bit of easy yoga, treadmill (slow), and meditate. Thank you for your wise advise😊💗! Really good article, Deb💜💜💜


I was going to ask about the athletes who are brought to their knees by the pain of fibromyalgia until I read the first reply. I am happy for the fee who are able to use exercise, diet, massage or any other natural means to regain their lives but there are many,many people for whom it’s not working! Every story like this one makes the rest of usv feel like we’re just not trying hard enough which isn’t true and the people who are anti medication just love to jump on this and force everyone into the same box! We often have multiple painful issues that require medication in order to just get out of bed, never mind exercise! Number8 says it all, if you can’t recover in twenty four hours then you shouldn’t be doing it! I love to ride my horse but in order to ride at a slow walk for fifteen minutes or so requires days of preparation and more days of recuperation!

Not all of us are able to do meaningful exercise program so when I read this I feel sad that I can’t. What my scoliosis and spinal disease doesn’t stop then the ra and arthritis of hip does. I also have sjrogrens.


Yes, agree with above about individual fibro responses. I’ve done Heavyhands Panaerobics since it was created about 1983 and through 27 years of fibro. Since four years ago when my fibro flared and never got better, though, the same exercises cause tremendous pain for three hours afterwards. Similarly, yoga, massage, stretching, etc. are so painful to do with no gain they are no treatments for me. There’s no doubt you have to get up and keep moving with fibro but exercise is not the panacea for everyone, unfortunately, nothing is.

Jean Price

Some really good points! Yet for some…other medical conditions can prevent them from recovering in just 24 hours! So it’s like being between a rock and a hard place! The movement is needed…yet the pain escalates…and STAYS…causing the person to be even MORE sedentary…which can then make everything, including the fibromyalgia, worse! I think the biggest rule is to just do the best you can, for the moment…and keep trying! At least, this is what I’ve done over the years. However, many conditions can and do deteriorate…to where even less is possible, regardless of how hard we try. That’s one of the reasons this opioid issue has hit so many! Exercise and a positive attitude are both important, as are many other alternative or natural treatments…yet can not be seen as the only answer for many…if we expect them to have any quality to their lives at all! Sad as this is, we DID have a good answer for some with opioids. And now we DON’T.

Ibin Aiken

My wife of 39 years was a “champion bodybuilder”. NO STEROIDS USED!!!! She has never smoked, drank alcohol and still is a “perfect” wife and Mother. She understands “No pain, no gain” but with the fibromyalgia, pain is different. I don’t now if fibro can “affect” some worse than others but, she is strong willed and still in a senseless level of pain. I admire her strength but, she is being weakened by a guideline for no reason. Their are so many variables with chronic pain.Thanks for the narrative!!!!