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Exercise improves health in fibromyalgia patients



Exercise is not considered a great option for people suffering from fibromyalgia. It has been said that patients with fibromyalgia will experience more pain as a result of resistance exercise.

But a new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy in Sweden says this is not true.

The researchers found that more than six out of 10 women were able to reach a level of exercise at 80 per cent of their maximum strength.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition that causes pain in the muscles and bones. People with this condition also feel tired and sleep poorly. Some sufferers also feel vague and even confused at times. Fibromyalgia affects around 2-5 per cent of the population, mainly young to middle-aged women.

For this study, the researchers studied 130 women aged between 20-65 years with fibromyalgia, a disease in which nine of 10 cases are women. Sixty-seven women were randomly assigned into a program where they took part in person-centred progressive resistance exercise led by a physical therapist. The control group comprised of the other 63 women and they underwent a more traditional therapy program with relaxation exercises. The training and exercises lasted for 15 weeks and were held twice a week.

The researchers found that more than six out of 10 women were able to reach a level of exercise at 80 per cent of their maximum strength. One out of 10 was at 60 per cent; the others were below that level. Five individuals chose to stop the training due to increased pain. The group as a whole had 71 per cent attendance at the exercise sessions.

The participants who took part in progressive resistance exercise said they felt better, gained muscle strength, had less pain, experienced better pain tolerance, had better health-related quality of life and less limitation of activities. The improvements in the control group were not as significant. But they showed hand and arm strength improvements. The relaxation exercises probably led to reduced muscle tension in the arms and shoulders, helping the participants develop more strength.

The findings for the resistance exercise group are affected by several factors, including the degree of pain and fear of movement before and during the exercise period. The researchers believe that the progress of this group can be attributed to the person-centred approach, with individually adjusted exercises and loads, including the support of a physical therapist.

The researchers also conducted an interview study, which reveals the women need support to choose the right exercises and the right loads. They also need support and help when pain increases. This shows they need the support of a physical therapist who is familiar with their condition to help them achieve health improvement through exercise.

Source: University of Gothenburg


Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!