Supervised Exercise Program May Bring Relief for Fibromyalgia (FM)

It should come as no surprise to hear exercise is one of the best medicines for the muscular pain and fatigue that characterize fibromyalgia. While experts have long recommended moderate physical exertion, such as walking and stretching every day, a recent study suggests you may reap even more benefit from a slightly more rigorous program.

The conditions of the Canadian study yielding these results involved separating participants with fibromyalgia into two groups. Both of these groups took part in tri-weekly, hour-long exercise classes. For six weeks, they were supervised in aerobic workouts and given exercises to increase their strength and flexibility. The only distinguishing feature between them was that one group also underwent educational training.

Interestingly, there was no distinction between the groups based on the educational component. Instead, the finding that came to light was this: during the course of the study, and at following intervals recorded at up to eight months, both groups demonstrated improvement in the areas targeted by their exercises; cardiovascular, mobility and strength.

Since sufferers of FM report their symptoms are aggravated by even a half-hour of exertion, it is understandable if the suggestion to increase exercise is met with a healthy skepticism. Yet this study would seem to suggest that it is more worthwhile to secure long-term relief than it is to avoid exacerbating the fatigue and muscular pain in the short term.

It’s hard enough to overcome the more sedentary lifestyle necessitated by extreme fatigue and muscular pain. Don’t face this without the expertise of supervision. Although the remedy may sound like bitter medicine, take heart from the long-term relief obtained by this study’s participants.


Arthritis Today, March-April 2000, pp. 38, 41.

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