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Exercising during lockdown with fibromyalgia

The article below was written by our office administrator Hazel, and her experience during the current lockdown. 
When the suggestion of working from home was first mentioned in relation to Covid-19, I had no concerns.   Due to having fibromyalgia, there have been several occasions over the years when I’ve had to do exactly that due to being unable to go into the office.   Normally that would only be for a day or two – with the longest time I think being two weeks – and more often than not I would be sitting on my bed using the laptop and propped up with pillows.

However – this was going to be more than just a couple of weeks – so I had to consider the best option for working.    My chair is a rocking/nursing chair and I was fortunate that we had a small folding table which was a good height next to it.   With the help of a cushion I was able to get a fairly comfortable work set up – which while not perfect, was suitable for a day’s work.    

By end of week 1 – I started to notice that my stiffness and pain levels were significantly increased.   I initially put this down to the fact that my desk setup wasn’t ideal for posture and comfort – and this got the blame.   Going into week 2, I continued to notice increased pain & stiffness levels – and also that I had been taking extra pain medication. 

Something I had not taken into consideration when the lockdown and isolation started is that I was generally not moving about as much.   My usual weekly routine would involve going out to work 3 days – so I would be walking from the car to the office, and during the day I would be up and down at the printer etc.  My 2 days off I visit family, go to my craft group and go shopping. Weekends I may be at craft fairs but would generally be out and about at some point.   All of this means that I am generally active and moving the majority of the time.  
Working from home, I am not moving as much and majority of time the furthest I am walking is out the back door.   So I have now had to consciously start being more active within the house.  I’m more aware of when I’m sitting working to make sure I get up and stretch and move on a regular basis – I’m also having to look at more structured exercise  
I have an exercise bike at home that I use on and off – so that is getting dusted down and I’m starting to do short 3-5 minute sessions, a couple of times a day.     But there are also some excellent online resources with a variety of exercises that you can follow.    
So, while my initial thoughts on being able to adjust to working at home not causing me any major issues – I did not realise how much my just getting on with my daily life contributed to pain management.   Certainly, research has always told us that exercise and activity is one of the best ways of self-managing fibromyalgia, and I guess I have always (like many others probably) just assumed that I would need to be doing a regular form of exercise before I would notice any significant difference.  
I certainly did not expect to find that being at home would contribute to such a significant increase in my pain and stiffness.  

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