When you have a medical condition that causes total body pain, aching joints, and tender muscles, the last thing you feel like doing is jumping on your bike and going cycling.
But for people with fibromyalgia, getting off the couch and exercising is exactly what their body needs. Fibromyalgia affects about two to four percent of the population and is characterized by widespread muscle and joint pain and fatigue. Although experts are not sure what causes fibromyalgia, many believe widespread inflammation and an altered stress response contribute to the disease.
Researchers from the Department of Physiology, at the University of Extremadura, in Badajoz,Spain, set out to discover if exercise did actually improve symptoms of fibromyalgia. Their sample included physically inactive, non-smoking women who had all been diagnosed as having fibromyalgia at least two years before the study. Each performed 45 minutes of exercise on a cycle ergometer and specific markers of inflammation and oxidative stress were measured before and after the activity.
This single bout of exercise reduced all inflammatory and oxidative stress markers to a significant extent. In fact, after the exercise, the markers matched those measured in the healthy women control group. The authors concluded that moderate cycling represented a good low impact, non-pharmacological therapeutic treatment option for fibromyalgia patients.
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Reviewed by Kai Man Yuen/ BSc PGDipSci MSc