We are using cookies to give you the best experience on our site. Cookies are files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalise your web experience.

By continuing to use our website without changing the settings, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Find out more
For more information, go to

Exercise 'beneficial' for easing fibromyalgia-related fatigue

Published on 01 March 2013
Exercise 'beneficial' for easing fibromyalgia-related fatigue

People with fibromyalgia who regularly experience fatigue may benefit from doing more aerobic exercise, a Swedish study suggests.

Scientists at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy found that exercise helped to relieve fatigue in people with the chronic pain condition, with lean patients seeming to see more rapid results.

The research team assessed 48 women with fibromyalgia, aged 48 to 56 years, who agreed to exercise outdoors twice-weekly for 15 weeks.

Participants also had blood tests before and after the exercise period and at a 30-week follow-up appointment, to see whether any observed links between exercise and fatigue might be associated with changes in levels of certain substances and growth factors.

The researchers observed that normal-weight individuals tended to have worse fatigue than overweight ones at the start of the study.

Levels of fatigue typically decreased over the course of the 15-week exercise period among lean patients, and among heavier patients after 30 weeks.

Analysis revealed that lean patients tended to have higher levels of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) than their heavier counterparts at the start of the exercise period, and their levels of IGF-1 increased further after 15 weeks of exercise, while overweight patients saw no increase.

IGF-1 has previously been reported to have a protective role in fibromyalgia.

The researchers also observed that lean patients with high levels of fatigue at the start of the study typically had lower levels of resistin, a factor produced in adipose tissue that may link inflammation and metabolic disease.

Patients' resistin levels tended to increase after 30 weeks and this also corresponded with a decrease in fatigue.

Publishing their findings in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, the study authors concluded: "Exercise reduced fatigue in all fibromyalgia patients; this effect was achieved earlier in lean patients."

The researchers concluded: "This study shows reduced fatigue after moderate exercise in fibromyalgia and indicates the involvement of IGF-1 and resistin in these beneficial effects."

A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK said: "In the absence of a really effective drug therapy to treat fibromyalgia, exercise and physiotherapy are important.

"Research has shown that aerobic exercise improves fitness and reduces pain and fatigue, and should also improve sleep and well-being."

For more information, go to
Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.