Strength training may ease fibromyalgia symptoms

March 5, 2002 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise

Strength training may ease fibromyalgia symptoms

According to a small study from the Harvard Institute of Medicine, an exercise plan that includes strength training and aerobic activity may help women with the painful disorder called fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition marked by widespread muscular and joint pain, as well as specific "tender" points that typically occur in the neck, spine, hips and shoulders. Other symptoms include sleep disturbances and fatigue, depression and irritable bowel syndrome. The condition is seen most often in women of reproductive age.

While there is no known cause or cure for fibromyalgia, there is evidence that exercise can help alleviate symptoms. This recent study of 15 women who completed a 20-week exercise program showed that a mixture of aerobic activity and strength conditioning can in fact improve fibromyalgia symptoms.

The women went through a progressive regimen that started with pool exercises to improve their joint movement, then moved on to walking and strengthening exercises with hand weights, machines and the body's own resistance. After 20 weeks, the women's muscle strength and endurance improved overall--as did their symptoms of pain, stiffness, fatigue and depression, the researchers report.

These findings support the inclusion of strength training as part of the recommended regimen of exercise for women with fibromyalgia syndrome.

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