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Exercise and chronic illness


I know exercise is a curse word to a lot of people in the chronic illness community. We are in pain. Why would we want More effing pain? But it is an important part of our treatment. The one I outline above is one I read about for chronic pain especially. It is re-training your brain to push back that alarm of pain, essentially creating a larger pain tolerance. Other would exercise and stop before the point of fatigue or pain. 

So I am writing this now, particularly, because I have begun to exercise again. I stopped when i went back to work full time because I can't do the two together. Too much pain and energy. Then I went on leave and when I came back I went to part time. So now I have more energy and time. It is now the time to add the exercise back in.

Turns out I am back at square one. With FM and hypermobility syndrome back at the beginning is essentially the entire time is painful. Grinding, gnawing horrible knee pain the whole time from the get-go. So I do that for about 2-3 minutes and stop. And this will be my routine for the week until my body begins to adjust to that and the fist minute will not be as painful, then it will be outrageously painful for the remainder of the time.

Took me 6 months last time to work up to 20 minutes of activity, and there was still a lot of pain involved in the beginning, but once your broke through that you could keep going to the Alarm pain. Because the pain is caused by different things. Hypermobility issues for the pain right away in the joints causing me immediate issues. And FM pain causing pain from just doing.

I know exercise is a difficult task. I know it adds pain when we are already in pain. That we don't want to even do it because we know it will be painful. That with exercise intolerance it is draining beyond belief. 

But this is a lifestyle choice we can make. It often shows in studies as improving various things from insomnia, to mood, to migraines and FM. I'll take it if I get a result on just something. 


  • But it is difficult- overall it is. But in slow increments it is easier to attain.
  • It adds pain- The idea is to not add pain, so you never want to get to that point of pain. Just feel it and stop. 
  • It add pain the next day- Which is why that is a down day. You can on this day do gentle stretches to ease the muscles and take an Epsom salt bath.
  • It causes immense fatigue- if this is the case, exercise to the point of fatigue and stop. Let that be your set point. 
  • You don't think it has a benefit- It does have a benefit to your health. Chances are it is going to change something for the better. Maybe the thing your doctor even said it would. Maybe something else. It certainly will not hurt you, if you do it carefully and slowly.
  • I feel like it might hurt me- If you feel that you might injure yourself doing exercise then you should go to your doctor and ask to be sent to phyio where they can give you are routine to build up specific muscle groups to help with your exercise.
  • I lack the motivation- I generally reward myself each week of success have have with something simple. Helps encourage me. Other people exercise with people as that tends to help. Or have online exercise buddy to motivate each other.
  • It isn't fun- Nope it is not. Therefore it is best to play some music you enjoy. Or do it in front of the TV. If you go for walks music or audio books is great. For the stationary bike I prefer music.
Also remember:

  • Be patient- it took me a month of riding a stationary bike at 10 minutes to get past that point from a pure muscle fatigue point. Not even to the pain issue. My timeline I was given to get to an hour of exercise was more than six months of consistent exercise by the pain clinic.
  • Allow yourself pain days- there is no point in exercising on high pain days. And no reason to feel bad about ‘ruining’ the routine. As far as I can tell I have no routine but I still manage three to four times a week. Just so happens it changes a lot to what time of day and which day of the week it is. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Don’t let anyone say you are going to slow, not doing enough, not doing the right sort. Any activity is actually good activity when it comes to chronic pain. It is all beneficial to us. Maybe not what some doctor read in his study, but you know I read a study that said 20 minutes of walking had a great deal of health benefits.
  • Never compare your progress to others- other people have different bodies, different levels of different conditions, different timelines. I know of some people with fibromyalgia that can exercise a lot and I am vastly impressed given my awesome start time of 10 minutes on the stationary bike but it is what it is. I have more than one pain condition and my pain is just at that point. I have to look at my progress day by day and not anyone else. Then when I got to 20 minutes I did a happy dance because it seemed like an insane improvement to me, relatively speaking.
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