Question: I have fibromyalgia, and despite daily stiffness, I'm fairly active. I feed, care and ride my three horses. But if I don't get a good night's sleep, my muscles are tight and sore. I'm 59. Any advice?
Answer: Take advantage of the days you feel well by engaging in aerobic exercise; the endorphins it releases are thought to offer pain relief and a psychological boost. Focus on low-impact exercises such as cycling, swimming or walking, aiming for three times a week, at least 20 minutes each time. Try to hit 60% to 85% of your maximum predicted heart rate.
A recent study of 34 fibromyalgia patients required them to perform either aerobic or flexibility exercises three times a week for 20 weeks. The aerobics group experienced far more pain reduction than the flexibility group.
For more information, check out the Fibromyalgia Network at http://www.fmnetnews.com.
Stephanie Oakes is the fitness correspondent for Discovery Health Channel and a health/fitness consultant. Send questions by e-mail to: email@example.com. She cannot respond to every query.