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Fibromyalgia pain calmed with this alternative exercise

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
alternative exercise for fibromyalgia pain

Fibromyalgia sufferers now have a proven way to help calm pain, thanks to new research. The news is especially good for those who find it difficult to walk for exercise.


Researchers for the first time have proven the benefits of swimming as a treatment for fibromyalgia, combined with medication and antidepressants.

Reduce fibromyalgia pain

The condition can be so debilitating for some that even the slightest pressure on the skin can cause pain.

Pain can also occur for no reason and last for extended periods of time, explains Jamil Natour, a professor of rheumatology at Federal University of São Paulo (UNIFESP) whose team conducted the new study.

Natour said in a press release many people don't like to exercise, leading his team to investigate an alternative that could bring pain relief and improved quality of life for millions affected by the condition.

Statistically significant results

Past studies have shown low impact exercise has benefit for fibromyalgia. But not everyone can find the impetus to walk, Natour shared.

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Swimming was shown in the new study to reduce fibromyalgia pain and more.

Natour said a 2 point drop on the pain scale is considered significant. For fibromyalgia patients, swimming can have equal benefit to walking.

For the study, researchers assigned one group of sedentary women a walking program and another group freestyle swimming.

Fibromyalgia pain dipped from 6.2 to 3.6 on average in the walking group and from 6.4 to 3.1 for the women's group given swimming exercise for 12-weeks.

Both groups also reported improved quality of life to include increased social interaction and mental health.

"Many patients have no anatomic defects, not even arthrosis, but suffer from worse deterioration in the quality of their lives and functionality than people with joint disease," Natour said. "Some studies have compared fibromyalgia with ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis, both of which are deforming joint disorders. Also, some 30% of people with fibromyalgia suffer from depression," Natour says.

Women are more often diagnosed with the disease than men. Depression is common for people with fibromyalgia.

If you have fibromyalgia and have not found a way to incorporate exercise into your treatment regimen you might want to consider swimming, shown in the new study to have genuine benefits.