The finding potentially suggests that exercise may lead to improvement in the network of brain areas that are recruited for working memory to function.
"In some ways it is concerning," Walitt said. "One would have hoped that exercise would have made them better [at the memory test]."
Wallit isn't sure what the findings might mean for real-life situations. "It may be if you have a more efficient brain, doing real-life tasks will be better."
While more study is needed, Walitt said that "overall, exercise seems to be a beneficial thing for fibromyalgia patients, in terms of overall well-being. If you can exercise and make it work for you, that's great."
However, he noted, some people with the condition can't tolerate exercise. Working out "is not going to be the answer for everybody and it's not going to fix anybody," he said.
While the study has some flaws, it's basically encouraging for those with the condition, said Dr. I. Jon Russell, a San Antonio fibromyalgia researcher and consultant, and retired professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio.
He thought the amount of time spent off medication during the study should have been longer before repeat testing. But, he said, "the most encouraging thing about this study is that fibromyalgia is continuing to be investigated."
"We have many reasons to believe that aerobic exercise is good for our patients. This study gives some support [to that idea]," Russell said. However, "We shouldn't over-interpret that exercise is the answer."
If patients can and do exercise, he said, "It's likely they will experience additional benefits."
Research presented at meetings should be considered preliminary since it has not undergone the scrutiny required of studies published in peer-reviewed journals.
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