Exercise and Reconditioning during CFS/Fibromyalgia Therapy

Published: August 22, 2012

When receiving therapy for any debilitating illness, reconditioning is a critical part of getting well. Because of the body wide "energy crisis" seen in CFS/Fibromyalgia, most of you have found that you were unable to condition beyond a certain point (it takes energy to store energy in muscles—which is what conditioning is). Instead, the doctor would push you to exercise, and you would spend the next 2 days in bed feeling like you had been hit by a truck!

The good news is that as you do our proven effective "SHINE Protocol" (Sleep, Hormones, Infections, Nutrition, and Exercise AS ABLE—discussed at length in my book "From Fatigued to Fantastic!"), you will find that your body starts making the energy needed to condition. You will then be able to exercise more and more—and it will actually leave you feeling better and stronger.

I have invited our patient Lisa D, who was sent to us by Dr. Oz and appeared on the Oprah show, to write this issues article on exercise. She has learned how to get pain free, and go from fatigued to fantastic. She is also excited about showing others with CFS/fibromyalgia how to do the same!

Adding "E" for "Exercise" to the SHIN Protocol to Make it SHINE

Article by Lisa D

Exercise is an important part of the SHINE protocol. As a former group fitness instructor, exercise was my passion. I absolutely loved to exercise. My world came to a screeching halt 7 years ago. My once busy nights filled with teaching fitness classes were empty and filled with doom, gloom, and pain from fibromyalgia. Although I never lost my passion for exercise, I thought my ability to exercise was almost non-existent. Boy was I wrong!

Last fall, I was one of eight individuals selected to be a part of Dr. Oz's YOU: Staying Young Program featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show. As a part of the Staying Young program, I was supplied with a bag full of goodies including a pedometer. Soon after, I decided to start my exercise program. I put on my pedometer and took a walk. Day after day, I was truly amazed at the number of steps I accomplished each day. After a few weeks of daily walks, I noticed a change in my body. My cold hands had feet had started to warm. My pain had greatly diminished. For the first time in many years, my energy levels had increased dramatically. I felt alive again. What a wonderful feeling. :-)

For many fibromyalgia patients, doable exercises include walking, Yoga, and Tai Chi just to name a few. Walking is an ideal exercise. It stimulates the hypothalamus and pituitary glands (both of which have a direct impact on fibromyalgia). This stimulation releases endorphins, which are considered "natural pain killers." I also include a combination of Yoga, Tai Chi and Palates in my exercise program. These mind and body exercises provide strength for the body, mind and soul.

The key to a successful exercise program is to not overdo it. Get yourself a pedometer, a good pair of walking shoes, a Yoga mat, and a positive attitude. Start slowly and take one day at a time. Increase the intensity and duration of your program with caution. Everyday will not be the same. Record your accomplishments in a journal and be proud. You will be pleasantly surprised at the number of steps you can accomplish and the increase you will see in your strength and flexibility.

Self empowerment is all you need to get started.

Lisa D

. . . . . . . . . . . .

I'd like to thank Lisa for her article, and offer a few tips to get you started safely:

1. Begin with light exercise like walking or even warm water walking (in a heated pool) if regular walking is too difficult.

2. Walk to the degree that you feel "good tired" afterwards and better the next day. If you feel worse the next day, stop a few days and then cut back.

3. Walk only as much as you know you comfortably can (or start with 5 minutes). Then increase by 1 minute every other day as is comfortable. When you get to a point that leaves you feeling worse the next day, cut back a bit to a comfortable level, and continue that amount of walking each day.

4. After 10 weeks on the "SHINE Protocol," your energy production will usually improve considerably, and you'll be able to continue to increase your walking by 1 minute every other day.

5. When you get to 1 hour a day (or 10,000 steps throughout the day if using a pedometer), you can increase the intensity of the exercise. Again, listen to your body, and only do what feels good to you. You'll know the difference between how "good pain" feels versus "bad pain" or crashing. Overall, "No Pain, No Gain" is stupid. Pain is your body's way of saying, "Don't do that!"

6. Do consider a pedometer. It makes it more fun to be able to see your endurance go up (set it for total steps you walk each day). There is even a recent pedometer study showing it to help ;-)

Unless it is cold, and the cold flares your pain, I recommend you get your exercise by walking outside, so you can get sunshine—your key source of Vitamin D. Many people with CFS/Fibromyalgia are Vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D from sunshine (or supplements) will help improve immune function and will also decrease the risk of hypertension, diabetes, and cancer (low Vitamin D is responsible for over 85,000 cancer deaths a year in the US). Make a plan to walk daily with a friend, and somewhere that's enjoyable (on cold days it could be in the mall). That way, you're more likely to have fun—and stay with the program!

Welcome to getting your life back!

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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