While approximately 5-10 million people in the US have fibromyalgia, about 80% are female. It does effect men and even children. FM is a chronic condition that brings with it muscle pain, tenderness at certain locations known as tender points, chronic fatigue, poor sleep patterns and a host of other serious symptoms. Due to the nature of the symptoms, the basic activities of daily life contribute to the fatigue and make it hard to add structured exercise. Those that are symptomatic are less motivated to exercise, become more sedentary and lose muscle strength for a good reason. They are pulled into a vicious circle. Among other things, aerobic exercises for a lengthy period of time is hard if not impossible. My experience has taught me that too much exercise one day can lead to more pain the next. While land-based exercise has proven to be difficult, ACSM reports warm water exercise programs longer than 12 weeks are beneficial. I understand one frustration that FM patients live with is being dismissed by the general public simply because most aren't knowledgeable. Read about Lynn's struggle on the National Fibromyalgia Association website. If you have a relative or friend with FM, remember to take their symptoms seriously. While they might want to join you in some planned activity like a shopping trip, it might be too much. We never know how another feels.
Resources: National Fibromyalgia Association website
ACSM's Exercise Management for Person's With Chronic Diseases and Disabilities, Chapter 31
Fibromyalgia by Kathy Lernley, PT, MS and Barbara B. Meyer, PhD
The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D.