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Exercise Eases Fibromyalgia Symptoms: Study
Date:11/12/2007

programs and after they completed them. Those who took part in strength training, aerobic activity, and flexibility training -- along with a self-help course on managing fibromyalgia -- reported the most significant improvement, the study found.

Women also improved after taking part in just flexibility and aerobic exercise or in all the three types of activity but without the self-help course. Those who just took the course noted the least improvement.

"Everybody improved if they exercised," Rooks said. "Everybody had some improvement in some aspect of things we were testing."

The study was published in the Nov. 12 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.

The exercise levels required in the study, which was funded by the Arthritis Foundation and U.S. National Institutes of Health, were moderate and didn't require sweating, Rooks said. "Part of the message is that you didn't have to work like you were training for the marathon to improve your health," he said. "That was an important message we tried to communicate throughout the study. It was a very well-received message."

There were other benefits of exercise, too. Social function, mental health, fatigue and depression also improved, the study authors wrote. The beneficial effect on physical function of exercise alone and in combination with education persisted at least six months.

Why would exercise be so helpful? "There is a physical part of it and an emotional part of it," Rooks said. "It gives people confidence that they can use their muscles when people have been telling them not to use their muscles."

Dr. Roland Staud, professor of medicine at the University of Florida and a fibromyalgia expert, said exercise is crucial for improvement in patients with chronic pain.

He called Rooks' study well done, if small, and said it shows the value of aerobic exercise in particular. "A lot of fibromyalgia patients think exercise creates
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