5 Tips for Exercising with a Chronic Illness

by Krissy Ward

written by Ashley Shaw


1. Get moving

     Even though you may be in pain when you get started, you HAVE to move. Not only will you start to feel a little better, your joints will be less stiff, but you will get a boost of endorphins.  During exercise, your body releases these chemicals which interact with the receptors in our brains that reduce the perception of pain.


2. Don’t be too hard on yourself


     It took years of baby steps for me to get back to the level I was at before my onset of fibromyalgia. Now I am stronger and in better shape than I ever was before. It will be a process and you may have to start back at square one and work your way back up. Trust the process and don’t beat yourself up if your mind and body are not on the same page all the time. It doesn’t help if you make yourself your own worst enemy by being mad at yourself.  Remember to continue to be loving to tour body, mind, and spirit. We didn’t ask for fibromyalgia but we are strong enough to be warriors and conquer life no matter what fibromyalgia throws at us!  


3. Modify modify modify


     These aches and pains are not conducive to all of the activities I used to do. Once I’m up I’m up and once I get down on the floor to do an exercise, I’m not trying to get up until we are done with everything we have to do on the floor lol. But seriously, any trainer worth their salt is able to modify activity if it is too painful to perform. Don’t have a trainer? My top suggestions are low to no impact exercise (no jumping, bumping, and jarring), switching up body parts if another is hurting too bad that day, and finally, ask a trainer or feel free to reach out to me at ashfit_1 on Instagram and get some advice on alternative activities you can try.


4. Challenge yourself


     Push past your own and other’s perceived limitations of what you can do with fibromyalgia. Don’t allow it to become a death sentence. It’s not! Try new exercises! Slowly increase your weights! I was told I wouldn’t be able to do much more than walk around the block and if you check my page out you will see that I’m doing so much more!! Mindset is the key. You are a warrior and you can do more than you think you can—trust me! I believe in you!! And again, baby steps!  Before you know it you will be amazed at how far you have gotten.


5. Have Fun


     Unfortunately, a lot of things are harder to do with fibromyalgia. But let’s be real here.  If you are in pain when you are sitting doing nothing and in pain while you are doing something... well then... we might as well have fun doing something that we love! Love to workout? Yes, you would actually be surprised. Not every type of workout is right for everyone, but once you find your “thing” it’s going to be hard to keep you away from it. I literally feel like I’m letting myself down if I don’t hit the gym twice a day now. What’s your exercise “thing”?  I encourage you to find it… Boxing?... Dance?... Weights?... Yoga? There are soooo many options! Find an activity that gets you moving, is fibro-friendly, allows you to challenge yourself, and brings a smile to your face even on the toughest days.  

     The most important thing is that we find enjoyment even in the little things. Fitness with fibromyalgia has been rewarding and satisfying because it has given me back the purpose, peace, and positivity that I lost before my diagnosis. It may not be easy but if life were easy where would all of the adventures be??




     Ashley Shaw is a published best selling author, public speaker, certified master life coach, certified personal trainer, and health/wellness coach. Founder and owner of AshFit Solutions, she focuses on holistic total body lifestyle transformation to ensure her clients are their best selves.

     A tragic traffic accident ended her career in law enforcement as an LA County Deputy Sheriff, so Ashley had to reinvent her life. After neck and back surgery and re-teaching herself to walk, Ashley ultimately rehabilitated herself from using a walker to becoming a body competitor.  

     From that experience, AshFit Solutions was formed and Ashley created a groundbreaking program, the “Ultimate Mindset Experience”, to share her story of going from depression to triumph for the purpose of inspiring and motivating others and to truly change lives through total mind, body, and spirit fitness. You can check out Ashley’s online mindset and fitness courses by visiting Ashfitsolutions.com.


Make sure to follow Ashley on Instagram @ashfit_1 and let her know that you are a part of the Fibro-warrior family!