Taking Steps with Fibromyalgia: Its All About Fibromyalgia

We all know that fibromyalgia means having good days and bad days. I just never realized how very different those days were.

A few months ago, I felt well both physically and emotionally (a rarity), and I realized that too much of my time was spent sitting. I definitely needed an exercise increase. To do this, I needed to know what my present activity level was. I had heard about pedometers for years but had never used one. I rarely walked enough to measure. But feeling more capable with my spurt of well-being, I found a free app called Stepz and bravely downloaded it on my phone. I was reluctant to know just how sedentary I was!

Before using the app, I needed to calculate the length of my stride, which is the distance between each step. This number (which my husband measured with chalk and a yardstick), multiplied by the number of steps I take, determines how far I walk each day. Also required was a suggested daily activity goal (in steps). That stumped me. Very healthy, very active friends of mine routinely achieve 10,000 steps (five miles) every day. That goal was laughable for me. In truth, any walking goal is equally ridiculous. Given the unpredictability of my symptoms, my true goal is to do whatever I can — if and when I can. But I had to choose some number, and 3,000 seemed as good as any. I could always adjust it later.

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After stretching my unconditioned leg muscles and chugging half a bottle of water, I put my phone in my pocket and set out to walk. The conditions were perfect. It was late morning, which is my most energetic time of day. The weather was warm but not hot, and the sun shone (my greatest motivator). Also, I was walking with a friend. That always adds to the pleasure of a walk for me, but it can also be dangerous. I tend to get so involved in conversations that I forget how long and how far I’ve walked. To most people, more is always better, so this is typically more of a positive than a negative. However, for folks with fibromyalgia, more can be worse, causing increases in pain and fatigue that don’t appear until the next day.

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Given the situation, I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised when after my walk my new Stepz app indicated 3,548 steps, or 1.5 miles. Although very tired, I also felt proud of my accomplishment. It’s difficult to describe how bad I felt the following day. What I will admit is that Stepz didn’t register above 400.

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Author: Dr James Robber

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