If you’ve been struggling to find an exercise routine that strengthens your body without triggering a flare-up, we’ve got you covered. Pilates is the best chronic fatigue exercise out there to help manage your symptoms and reduce flare-ups by stretching, strengthening, and learning breathing techniques.
Pilates is a low impact exercise designed to strengthen key muscle groups without causing full-body fatigue. It teaches you how to use your core muscles (located in your abdomen and back) without straining your joints and how to build a stronger mind-body connection by pairing movement to breathe. It’s ideal for people who suffer from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue.
Why Are Pilates A Good Chronic Fatigue Exercise?
Pilates is a form of exercise which has gained popularity because it’s so adaptable to different fitness levels. It’s easy to do at home and gives you a gentle, impact-free, full-body workout, combining strengthening and stretching exercises that tone your whole body through precise, controlled motions.
Because it is both gentle and adaptable, it offers benefits to people living with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME/CFS), as long as you can handle the level of exertion. Many experts on these conditions, including the National Fibromyalgia Association, highly recommend pilates as a chronic fatigue exercise.
How Does Pilates Actually Work?
Pilates focuses largely on core strength and strengthening the muscles of the torso. When your core is strong, it supports the rest of your body and reduces strain on your back and limbs. A typical Pilates workout will work your whole body and help you build longer and leaner muscles.
For people with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, pilates could be a great way to ease into fitness and build strength. This will be more effective for people who are already somewhat active and don’t suffer from high levels of stiffness.
It’s incredibly important to know your limits if you want to start exercising while you have one of the above conditions. Too much exertion can cause symptom flares for people suffering from FMS or a sharp uptick in symptoms (called post-exertional malaise) for those with ME/CFS. You need to keep your exercise appropriate to your body’s capabilities.
For the safest results, start out slowly and cautiously. Keep your workouts to just a couple of days a week with a few days in between. Pay attention to any changes in your symptoms on your days off. And, of course, check in with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise routine.
It’s important to note that while some doctors believe that exercise (at appropriate levels) can be a good and healthy step in managing your ME/CFS, others recommend against any exercise at all.
6 Benefits of Pilates
There are many reasons pilates is a great chronic fatigue exercise. These are just a few of the benefits you can get from regular (level appropriate) workouts.
Work Out Your Mind and Your Body
Pilates helps you become fully attuned to your body and teaches you how to really control its movement through proper breathing, correct pelvic and spinal alignment, and focus on exact, flowing movements. The quality of your movement is more important than repeating it a hundred times. Plus, learning to breathe properly not only allows you to execute movements powerfully and efficiently, it also helps you manage stress.
Train Your Body to Move Safely
Because pilates trains multiple muscle groups at once, using smooth, continuous movements, it actually trains your body to move in safer and more efficient movement patterns. This is great for conditioning your body to have better posture and in dealing with any preexisting sports injuries you may have.
Pilates Is Gentle On Your Body
Most of the exercises you’ll do in pilates are done from sitting or reclining positions and they tend to be low impact and only partially weight-bearing. This makes pilates a great choice for people who are dealing with chronic physical issues and is part of the reason it is often used in physical therapy for rehabilitation.
You Can Adapt Pilates for Any Level of Fitness
Another reason pilates is so popular, both for people suffering from chronic illnesses and people who aren’t, is that it’s super adaptable. There are modifications for nearly every pilates exercise so that beginners can create a workout that works for their fitness level and you can increase the challenge over time as you grow in strength.
Build Long, Lean Muscles and Improve Your Flexibility
Many conventional workouts are heavily weight-bearing and designed to build short, bulky muscles. Pilates, on the other hand, is designed to elongate and strengthen your muscles, which improves muscle elasticity and joint mobility. Long muscles are much less prone to injury.
Condition Your Body to Prevent Injury
Typical workouts, as we mentioned above, often work the same muscles over and over again. This means that weak muscles stay weak and strong muscles get stronger, creating a muscular imbalance in the body that can lead to injury and chronic back pain. One of the benefits of pilates as a chronic fatigue exercise is that it conditions your entire body. None of your muscle groups are left out and none are overtrained. When your body is evenly conditioned, you’re less likely to get injured and more able to enjoy daily activities.
Pilates is easily the best chronic fatigue exercise because it allows you to design a workout that is tailored to your fitness and ability level, no matter where you’re starting out. It also conditions your entire body, instead of focusing exclusively on certain areas, so that you’re more able to handle daily activities and significantly less likely to injure yourself.