The effects of progressive strength training and aerobic exercise on muscle strength and cardiovascular fitness in women with fibromyalgia: A pilot study




To determine the safety, feasibility and consequences of a program of progressive strength training and cardiovascular exercise in women with fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS).


Fifteen women with confirmed FMS were monitored for injury and exercise compliance, and assessed for muscle strength (1-repetition maximum technique), cardiovascular endurance (6-minute walk test), and functional status (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire [FIQ]) before and after a 20-week exercise intervention.


Zero injuries and an 81% compliance rate occurred during training. Improvement was seen in muscle strength of the lower (191 ± 75 to 265 ± 67 pounds; P < 0.001) and upper (61 ± 18 to 76 ± 18 pounds; P < 0.001) body, 6-minute walk distance (530 ± 80 to 629 ± 74 meters; P < 0.001), and in FIQ score (44 ± 9 to 32 ± 14; P < 0.01).


A program of progressive strength training and cardiovascular exercise can be safe, well tolerated, and effective at improving muscle strength, cardiovascular endurance and functional status in women with FMS without exacerbating symptoms. This program may also contribute to a reduction in the severity of several symptoms.