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Women With Fibromyalgia Prefer Lower-Intensity Exercise

Women With Fibromyalgia Prefer Lower-Intensity Exercise

Women with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) may experience significant reductions in pain after preferred-intensity or prescribed-intensity exercise. The preferred exertion model might be used as a more generizable strategy, especially because pain and other debilitating symptoms of FMS are highly variable among persons.

Newcomb and coworkers studied 21 women with FMS, who completed 2 exercise sessions of 20 minutes of cycle ergometry at a self-selected and a prescribed intensity and a packet of questionnaires. The prescribed exercise session consisted of exercising at moderate intensity defined as 60% to 75% of age-adjusted heart rate (HR). Aspects of pain assessed included muscle pain during exercise, experimental pain perception, and pain in the postexercise period.

The women chose a significantly lower workload in the preferred exercise session than in the prescribed exercise session. Watts, HR, and rating of perceived exertion responses were significantly lower in the preferred exercise session. Muscle pain in the legs did not differ significantly between the exercise sessions. Pain thresholds and pain tolerances increased significantly after exercise; peak pain intensity and peak pain unpleasantness ratings decreased significantly.

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