About two percent of the population in the United States has a condition known as fibromyalgia. It affects more women than men and the risk of getting it increases with age. People who have fibromyalgia feel pain in their muscles, tendons and ligaments. They have tender points, where, when pressure is applied, they feel additional pain. Sleep patterns are also disturbed, with a lack of deep sleep causing exhaustion throughout the day.

Many people with fibromyalgia are initially misdiagnosed. Once they get a true diagnosis, the doctor can prescribe drugs, physical therapy, exrcise, stress reduction or counseling.

One of my clients, a nurse with fibromyalgia, swears by enough sleep ( made possible by sleep medication) and exercise. She's also a weekend artist, which I'm sure, helps to reduce her stress level.

Another client with fibromyalgia got significant relief from a workout of light cardio, resistance training and stretching. If she has a flare-up in the middle of the night, she gets up and does a set of walking lunges to relieve the pain.

People with fibromyalgia should find a trainer who has some knowledge of this condition. The trainer should start the client out with a light exercise load -- say a warm-up of walking, followed by gentle stretching and can try some very light weight training. The session should end with stretching the client can tolerate. The intensity of such a workout may increase over time, with extra cardio alternating with the workout days.

A person with fibromyalgia knows where his or her "hot points" are and should communicate any painful exercises to the trainer. These exercises can be avoided, modified or worked through if tolerable.

Swimming, biking, qi gong, tai chi,massge and hot and cold packs are also helpful to many.

I have had great success with my clients with fibromyalgia, though I train each one differently according to their needs. With some, we will avoid too-painful exercises altogether, but still complete a full cardio, weight and stretching workout. With others I may do weights and stretching one day and on another day, if they're experiencing a flare-up, just do gentle yoga. The important thing is to be consistent in the amount of exercise you do.

If you have fibromyalgia there's no reason to give up exercise. In fact, that's the worst thing you could do!


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Sibyl Adams, Seniority Matters’ featured fitness blogger, has spent three decades in the health and fitness field. She began competing in local body building events in 1980, and by 1983, she was second in her weight class in the International Arm Wresting Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica. Sibyl remained active in the body-building scene for more than a decade, while also teaching aerobics and running races. She retired from body building in 1990, but continued running competitively until 2004, when she suffered an ankle injury.

Today, Sibyl works full-time as a personal fitness trainer and is president of her own company, A Personal Touch Fitness. She is a certified Reiki master, a National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCSF) Certified Trainer, and is currently pursuing a certification in yoga. She enjoys swimming, power-walking and playing with her grandchildren.

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