Why Does Mild exercise help?

Information about how to manage or reduce the severity of BFS symptoms

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Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby BFSBurger on February 12th, 2013, 2:08 pm

Been thinking more about this lately. Trying to get my head around it. Clearly anxiety center in our body is all jacked up. Whether a virus/fungus/bacteria is causing our anxiety center to go haywire, whether we've hacked away at our nervous system for years via ongoing tension and "fight or flight" reactions, or whether we've done the same via an acute, intense episode of stress in our lives (pregnancy, toxic medications, horrible emotional trauma)... doesn't matter.

What we do know is that our muscles and nerves are operating on a different level than they were before and expressing tension and anxiety symptoms at a much more easily reached threshold than before.

Mild exercise - whole body (every muscle group) - with minimal weight - and just one set of 10 reps ... This has been key for me. I've been thinking about why lately. My guess is this: In the absence of movement, tension is built up. Tension equals stress. Whether this is lactic acid buildup or something else, I have no idea.

But when the muscle is allowed to rest for too long, it begins to (in our case) express symptoms of agitation, irritation, inflammation, and tension.

I believe it is the simple, mild release of agitation, irritation, inflammation, and tension via very simple resistance training that re-establishes a "calm" for the muscle group. Over time, this calm becomes the "norm" rather than tension being the norm, and symptoms begin to subside.

Many of us sit 10 hours a day not moving. Some report improvement of symptoms by standing and working instead. Its no surprise. The simple act of having to support yourself standing equates to a very mild release of tension for the muscles. Every hour spent sitting - you should picture it as an hour of additional tension and expect more symptoms. This is why I believe hitting every muscle group is so important. Your body isn't just your pecs. So doing bench presses isn't going to help. Doing 1 set of every muscle area should. Shoulders and Arms. Back. Abs. Chest. Thighs. Squats. I even balance on one foot for 30 seconds each workout. Then walking on the treadmill - again mild - 5-10 minutes. I breathe as deeply in as I can and exhale all the way for the entire time. Your organs are also experiencing increased tension and stress. This relieves them and creates a minor fatigue and "calm" that lasts a handful of days. Then repeat.

Note: I really believe you can go too far. I would do maybe 1/4 or 1/5 of the weight you normally push. Instead of 3 sets do 1 set. I believe this is also key. Killing it at the gym is not going to help. It can prolong or make it worse.

Any thoughts on why exercise helps? I really believe its the mild release of tension/anxiety/chemicals(?) that build up because of whatever disorder we've acquired.
How I resolved my BFS within 1 year of onset:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=19128
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby SuziQ on February 12th, 2013, 3:31 pm

Not sure why it helps, although we ought never discount the power of Endorphins in relieving stress, pain, and of course, depression. Furthermore, regular exercise is bound to improve flexibility, strength, endurance, and overall well-being. That works for us, as well as the general population.

Personally, I found no difference in symptoms between working-out hard with heavy weights vs. less intense training. In the beginning, that might have been true, but I found, historically that once I reached a certain consistency in my work-outs, there was absolutely no difference in symptoms from one level to the next.

Of course, now I am asymptomatic except for the occasional eye-twitch, but if I go a long period without working out, (like when recently, I had a nasty injury,) I do find it super slow-going in getting back to my pre-injury fitness level. Everything hurt a lot more and a lot longer than it did when I was younger. Whether this was BFS or just the normal aging process, who knows? Since it was only temporary, I didn't fret about it.

Everyone is different, of course, but the human body has a remarkable ability to adapt, heal and repair itself.

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Sue
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby BFSBurger on February 13th, 2013, 10:39 am

SuziQ wrote:no difference in symptoms between working-out hard with heavy weights vs. less intense training. In the beginning, that might have been true

Definitely in the beginning. And by beginning I might even say the first 6 months. And to take it a step further I might even suggest that brand new BFS'ers do everything in their power to avoid exercise for a full month. As with every statement I make, I could be wrong (these are mostly thought experiments), but it seems that BFS appears in a setting of extreme stress on the body. Hitting the gym hard is the last thing you want to do the first month. In fact doing nothing seems like it would promote "calming" that is necessary. But after a month, and for the first 3-6 months, I would absolutely not go kill it at the gym. A period of moderate, gradually increasing whole body resistance. VERY mild. The great part is that your body is going to tell you what it can do. Very quickly I started my mild workout and after about 6 iterations, I was pushing serious weight. But I had to force myself to slow down because I noticed that this only created stress on my system. And that needs to be avoided. There are people on here who have had BFS for years and probably never tried this approach, who say they love feeling the twitching like crazy after a hard workout. This is the type of mentality that should be avoided. Eventually, for someone like you who has taken lifestyle changes and carefully gotten symptoms in control, and who is now many years past BFS-onset, I can see why you've reached a stage where intensity is safe. Your intense workouts don't result in massive twitching attacks, because you got yourself there carefully. But I am speaking mostly to those who are just starting on a lifestyle change. People who haven't done anything before to try and tackle their symptoms.

I guess my main point was, exercise only to the point of feeling better. If you push it to the point of feeling seriously fatigued, you need to kick it back a notch or you're not helping. As you said - everyone is different.

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How I resolved my BFS within 1 year of onset:

viewtopic.php?f=3&t=19128
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby JStanz on February 22nd, 2013, 5:48 pm

I beleive exercise is a must have for us twitchers. Go running, swimming, biking, weights. Makes a huge difference. We can't just be coach potatoes while focusing on every single twitch we see and/or feel.
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby johnnythejet on February 24th, 2013, 1:22 am

SuziQ wrote:Personally, I found no difference in symptoms between working-out hard with heavy weights vs. less intense training. In the beginning, that might have been true, but I found, historically that once I reached a certain consistency in my work-outs, there was absolutely no difference in symptoms from one level to the next

True for me and many others. I can work out as hard as I want with no problems and its been that way for years. Exercise and living healthy is very helpful in beating BFS. It's a lot harder for health anxiety to fester when you have a healthy body, and exercise in general reduces anxiety.
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby BFSBurger on February 24th, 2013, 4:35 pm

SuziQ wrote:Personally, I found no difference in symptoms between working-out hard with heavy weights vs. less intense training.

Johnnythejet wrote:True for me and many others. I can work out as hard as I want with no problems and its been that way for years

I don't believe the fact that you continue to have constant twitching after nearly 8 years, constitutes "no problems". That's why i drew a differentiation between killing it at the gym and taking it easy, with the goal of stress reduction and rejuvenation. I believe most people here are looking for ways to calm their system so that they can get over this syndrome once and for all. Quickly. As a BFSer who continues to twitch for 8 years now, kills it at the gym, and downs large quantities of caffeine daily, you are actually proving my point. A person can continuing to make bad decisions for their body and continuing to twitch, or they can change their lifestyle and hopefully calm the system enough over many months, to finally get past all of this. Suzi's comment holds more water for me because she is past BFS after careful lifestyle changes. Now she has built some resilience to vigorous exercise, and it doesn't induce massive twitching attacks, as you have stated happens with you.

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viewtopic.php?f=3&t=19128
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby johnnythejet on February 24th, 2013, 5:30 pm

BFSBurger wrote:
SuziQ wrote:Personally, I found no difference in symptoms between working-out hard with heavy weights vs. less intense training.

Johnnythejet wrote:True for me and many others. I can work out as hard as I want with no problems and its been that way for years

I don't believe the fact that you continue to have constant twitching after nearly 8 years, constitutes "no problems". That's why i drew a differentiation between killing it at the gym and taking it easy, with the goal of stress reduction and rejuvenation. I believe most people here are looking for ways to calm their system so that they can get over this syndrome once and for all. Quickly. As a BFSer who continues to twitch for 8 years now, kills it at the gym, and downs large quantities of caffeine daily, you are actually proving my point. A person can continuing to make bad decisions for their body and continuing to twitch, or they can change their lifestyle and hopefully calm the system enough over many months, to finally get past all of this. Suzi's comment holds more water for me because she is past BFS after careful lifestyle changes. Now she has built some resilience to vigorous exercise, and it doesn't induce massive twitching attacks, as you have stated happens with you.

BFSB

After 8 years I've been through many periods of mild exercise as you are advocating, no exercise, and more rigorous exercise/training. I've found that there is no difference in symptoms between mild exercise and rigorous exercise. The important thing is that we DO exercise to stay healthy and relieve anxiety. Most people here are trying to beat BFS and not let this crap ruin their lives, and that's what I hope they can acheive. I have "no problems" because my symptoms are not in the least bothersome to me and I live my life happily with no fear or anxiety related to them.
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby Seepi27 on February 24th, 2013, 6:24 pm

Not sure why (mild) exercise helps, but it does. After a year of inertia following the arrival of BFS, I have finally gone back to the gym, and the difference is pretty amazing. Just 45 mins of workout (15 of stretches and weights, 30 of treadmill running), I feel invigorated and totally anxiety-free for hours. I still twitch, but the random hitters - most of which were postural, I believe - have died down, and the constant calf twitching is no longer as palpable as before. Don't know why I left it so long to get back on track, but I'm glad I did. I know of other 'twitchers' who are reaping the same benefits, so there is definitely something in it.
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

Postby InzlKett on February 26th, 2013, 10:53 am

I have been active all of my life. I used to run half marathons, play softball and volleyball. I now walk 4 miles or do wind sprints to keep things under control. I am in my 50's. The twitching gets worse when I sit around.
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Re: Why Does Mild exercise help?

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