Patients with fibromyalgia benefit from aerobic endurance exercise

Clin Rheumatol. 2000;19(4):253-7. doi: 10.1007/s100670070040.


Fibromyalgia (FM) is a disorder characterised by diffuse widespread musculoskeletal aching and stiffness and multiple tender points [1]. Its pathophysiology is poorly understood. The influence of aerobic endurance exercise on pain in patients with FM was investigated. Twenty-seven patients (25 female, 2 male) participated in a controlled clinical study and performed 12 weeks of jogging, walking, cycling or swimming following a given schedule. Twelve sedentary FM patients (11 female, 1 male) served as controls. Before and after training both the study and the control groups were evaluated spiroergometrically. Tender point pain was quantified by dolorimetry. The painful body surface was estimated by a pain body diagram, and its intensity by a visual analogue scale and a ranking scale. Patients trained for an average of 25 min two to three times a week, with an average intensity of 50% of maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max). Unlike the control group, the training group exhibited a decrease in heart rate and VO2 and an increase in respiratory quotient during submaximal workload. Maximal performance capacity and VO2max remained unchanged, whereas the wattpulse (watt/heart rate) improved at maximal workload. Pain parameters remained unchanged in the control group, but in the training group the mean number of positive tender points (15.4/12.7), the mean pain threshold of the gluteal tender point (2.89 kp/3.50 kp) and the painful body surface (18%/15% body surface) decreased significantly. Subjective general pain condition deteriorated in two patients but improved in 17. Our results suggest a positive effect of aerobic endurance exercise on fitness and well-being in patients with FM.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Exercise Test
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / metabolism
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology
  • Fibromyalgia / therapy*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Jogging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / physiopathology
  • Pain Measurement
  • Pain Threshold
  • Physical Endurance
  • Spirometry
  • Swimming
  • Time Factors
  • Walking