Even the thought of exercising is painful for many people who have fibromyalgia.
Yet a new study from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that exercise does not worsen the pain associated with the disorder and may even lessen it over time. The findings are published in the current online issue of the journal Arthritis Care & Research.According to Dennis Ang, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest Baptist and senior author of the study, doing light to moderate exercise over a prolonged period of time improves overall symptoms, such as fatigue and trouble sleeping, while not increasing pain.
"For many people with fibromyalgia, they will exercise for a week or two and then start hurting and think that exercise is aggravating their pain, so they stop exercising," Ang said. "We hope that our findings will help reduce patients' fear and reassure them that sustained exercise will improve their overall health and reduce their symptoms without worsening their pain." To evaluate the relationship between long-term maintenance of moderate intensity exercise, defined as light jogging or brisk walking for 20 minutes a day, the research team enrolled 170 volunteers to participate in a 36-week study.