This Norwegian study evaluated the efficacy of an aerobic exercise program which was entirely pool based. Eighteen fibromyalgia subjects in a pool-based program were compared to sixteen fibromyalgia subjects exercising on land. Both groups completed the 20-week program, exercising for 60 minutes each week at an intensity to keep the heart rate within 60 to 80 percent of the age-adjusted maximum. The pool-based group trained in water at a temperature of 34 degrees Celsius. The major outcome measure was the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire. The pool-based group significantly improved in terms of stiffness, daytime fatigue, anxiety, and the number of days feeling good. The land-based group showed significant improvements in daytime fatigue and stiffness. There was a significant improvement in the six-minute walk time and cardiovascular capacity in both groups. Apart from a difference in strength, favoring land-based therapy, no significant differences were found between the two groups.
This is the first study to compare pool therapy with land-based therapy in FM patients. The results suggest both can result in worthwhile improvements, but there may be an advantage to pool therapy in terms of self-reported physical impairment, depression, and anxiety.