Upping Your Exercise Routine
As we know, previous studies have found short-term benefits of exercise for FM. But many of us fail to keep up with exercise programs out of fear that it will worsen pain.
According to a new study, for those who are able, exercising once or twice more weekly (that is: more than you are already doing) may alleviate some of the symptoms.
Patients received individualized exercise prescriptions and completed baseline and follow-up physical activity assessments, to evaluate the relationship between long-term maintenance of moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and clinical outcomes in FM. MVPA (in this study) was considered to be an increase 10 or more metabolic equivalent hours per week above usual activities Outcomes included improvements in overall well-being, pain severity ratings, and depression.
“This study shows that if they’re able to stay with the exercise program in the long term it actually is helpful to them,” said Matteson, chair of the department of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.
Although sustained physical activity was not associated with greater clinical benefit compared to unsustained physical activity, these findings also suggest that performing greater volumes of physical activity is not associated with worsening pain in FM. Future research is needed to determine the relationship between sustained MVPA participation and subsequent improvement in patient outcomes.
“One of the best known therapeutic activities for fibromyalgia patients is exercise,” said Anthony Kaleth, who specializes in exercise testing at Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis. “Our study confirmed that result.”
Any increase in activity, whether or not it was maintained, resulted in positive changes in symptoms and no increased pain, according to the findings in Arthritis Care and Research.
If they had followed the participants for a longer period of time, they might have seen more benefits for people who maintained the program, Kaleth said.
Most people use a combination of medications, including pain relievers, antidepressants and anti-seizure drugs to alleviate fibromyalgia symptoms. Doctors also recommend keeping active with walking, swimming or water aerobics, but many patients are reluctant to start exercising.
“They’re more worried that it’s going to be painful, but that’s more of a psychological effect,” Kaleth said.
Starting off too vigorously before building up endurance can be painful for anyone, with or without fibromyalgia, Dr. Eric Matteson, chair of the department of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said.
“This is a stepping stone I think in terms of the actual result that we found,” Kaleth said.