Fibromyalgia Patients Seen to Benefit from Moderate Exercise, Too

Fibromyalgia Patients Seen to Benefit from Moderate Exercise, Too

Women with fibromyalgia (FM) can experience muscular benefits with short and moderate aerobic exercise, rather than more intense routines as previously thought.

The results were published in the study, “Acute effects of physical exercise on the serum insulin-like growth factor system in women with fibromyalgia,” in the journal BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. The study reports on the release of factors known to increase during exercise, and which have not been previously studied in women with FM.

Researchers found that a particular protein called serum insulin-like growth factor (S-IGF-1) increases during moderate intensity bicycling. This factor is important both in building muscle, and in its effects on the central nervous system.

In total, 22 women with CF (ages 20-50 years) were identified from participation in other studies from the team, and contacted. Twenty-seven healthy control participants were also recruited.

Exercise tests were performed on ergometer cycles, which measure the amount of work done by the body during physical exertion. The activity workloads were assessed for each woman, who underwent moderate to high intensity workouts.

The tests were completed one month apart, on days five-seven of the menstrual cycle to minimize hormonal influence.

Exercise level was graded according to Borg’s perceived exertion scale (RPE), and cycling intensity was classified as moderate intensity in ratings 12-13, while high intensity ranged from 15-17. Pain and fatigue levels were self-recorded by participants.

After bicycling for 15 minutes, serum levels of S-IGF-1 and its binding protein (S-IGFBP-3) — insulin-like growth factors linked to bone and tissue growth — were seen to increase in both groups. Those increases did not significantly differ between the two groups at either moderate or high intensity level cycling.

However, the pain and fatigue scores reported by women with FM were higher compared to those in healthy controls, regardless of exercise intensity. Pain thresholds were also analyzed, and found to actually decrease in women with FM after moderate exercise, and tended also to decrease after high intensity exercise. Pain threshold in the healthy controls increased only after high intensity exercise.

Overall, the results are quite promising for women with FM, as they can achieve exercise benefits with only 15 minutes of bicycling at moderate intensity. “Hence, patients with FM were able to activate their skeletal muscle metabolism during a short, moderate bout of exercise and were not resistant to training effects,” the team concluded. “The result is important for encouraging clinical rehabilitation of patients with FM who commonly exercise at a moderate, rather than at a high-intensity level.”

This study (NCT01592916) is still ongoing in Sweden and recruiting participants. For more information, please visit this link.



  1. Denise Bault says:

    As I’ve mentioned before, the best exercise for fibromyalgia sufferers are: swimming, walking, biking and yoga. (And I’ve done all 4 at one time or another.) Currently I swim. I know I would be bedridden if I did not go swimming! And it does not take much. I swim for 10 minutes, then float, then swim for 10 more. I’ve gone from barely being able to move, to being able to swim 30-60 minutes… and I feel so much better each and every time I go. Some days, I even forget to take my pain meds until a couple of hours AFTER exercising! Whatever the aerobic exercise you choose, remember to start slow and then work your way up.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      Swimming is a fantastic way to exercise and keep your muscles, ligaments, joints and tendons lubricated and pliable. And going without meds is a great plus too. 🙂

    • Pamela Craft-Jenewein says:

      Range of Motion (ROM) exercises too, as they are a wonderful “first” step when starting an exercise routine. There’s also simple calisthenics, like when in school phys ed class.

      These can be Googled for ideas that can be incorporated into any routine.

  2. DFW Mom says:

    Sighhhh… An interesting question that everyone should ask is why we don’t see similar articles. Exercise is great for people with cancer. Exercise is great for people with flu. Exercise is great for people with glaucoma. The reason is that the medical community is DESPERATE for something that they claim as a “treatment” for this disease. Because, let’s face it… they’ve got NOTHING. What patients with fibromyalgia need from doctors is not more advice to go out and exercise. What patients with fibromyalgia need from doctors is real MEDICAL TREATMENT. They can go to Mom for advice to eat right and exercise. What we need, when we go to the doctor, is MEDICAL TREATMENT. Stop wasting money on exercise research and start spending money on research into what is going wrong in the immune system. All this kind of research is doing is eroding what little credibility the medical community has left. If you can’t treat it, and you have no plans to treat it, then ADMIT IT. Stop proudly displaying yet another tired old exercise research study, like you’ve discovered the Golden Fleece. After the massive corruption and dishonesty of the PACE trial, you all should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves. It is time to get back to real medicine.

    • Pamela Craft-Jenewein says:

      DFW MOM: (((((HUGE HUGS)))))

      AMEN!!! I thought I was the only one fed up with the medical community’s lack of medical care; in particular to chronic pain and fatigue and other chronic conditions with no obvious solution. Their long standing as “GOD” is eroding rather quickly. Its time they admit to being human, and as you suggested, get back to “real” medical research and care.

  3. Sharon Pullam says:

    I have been on Dr. St. Amand’s protocol which reverses fibromyalgia for 15 years and I am 90% pain free and no more chronic fatigue. But I remember before I went on the protocol and I could barely stand or walk for more than a few seconds as the pain was so bad in my right knee and left hip. The only exercise I could do was to move around in the water and get some movement that way.

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