A recent study suggest that women with fibromyalgia can see positive results from an exercise program. A program that includes walking, strength training and stretching may improve daily function and alleviate symptoms. Those with fibromyalgia have chronic pain and specific sites of tenderness in their bodies. The causes are not very well understood and it is predominately found in women.
Researchers conducted a 16 week study on women who were taking medicines for pain relief. One group studied did aerobic exercise and flexibility work. Another group added simple strength training exercises.
A third group was given a self help course to help educate themselves on how to deal with symptoms and the last group combined the education with the walking, stretching and strengthening. The exercisers met twice a week and they gradually increased their exercise intensity through the program. They were told to exercise a third day on their own. 207 women started the program and 135 completed the 16 weeks.
The studies' authors suggest that progressive walking, basic strength exercises and stretching are effective at improving physical, emotional, and social function. These results were still present 6 months after the program was concluded. The benefits of exercise were enhanced when combined with self management education. The participants had improved physical function, which likely makes it easier to deal with these issues.
My thoughts would be that most people can still see results from an exercise program if it is adapted to their specific needs and they go through a gradual progress, letting their bodies adapt to the new stimulus.
This is what you would want in any exercise routine, but especially those with physical difficulties. I believe that we all need adequate movement for joint and muscular function, and to prevent or reduce chronic tension in the muscles. Joint mobility movements would be one thing that I would recommend for those with Fibromyalgia. The gentle movements increase circulation and reduce excess tension in the muscles surrounding the joints.
Whole body vibration (Power Plate) would be another. It also increases blood and lymphatic flow, as well as providing an endorphin release. Endorphins are the feel good chemicals released during exercise. The vibrations send lots of signals to your nervous system, which may compete with the pain signals, blocking some of them from getting through. This may also reduce the sensitivity of your body to pain.
This study was reported in Science Daily and published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2007.