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Regular exercise protects against fibromyalgia

By Emma Wilkinson

Taking regular exercise protects against fibromyalgia, suggest Norwegian researchers who also found that obesity is an independent risk factor for the condition.

In a study of almost 16,000 women - using data collected over two decades - exercising four times a week was associated with a 29% reduced risk of developing fibromyalgia compared with inactivity.

Further analysis of frequency, duration and intensity of exercise confirmed that the women who did the most exercise had a lower risk than those who did very little.

In addition a high BMI was found to be a strong and independent risk factor for developing the chronic pain syndrome, putting those who are overweight and inactive at the most risk.

Study leader Dr Paul Mork, a researcher from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said previous studies had shown metabolic factors, hormonal and sympathetic nervous system factors may all have a role in fibromyalgia.

‘These findings, together with the current study, indicate that regular physical exercise, and thereby improved physical fitness, may serve as a buffer against the perpetuation of musculoskeletal symptoms that eventually lead to the development of fibromyalgia,' he concluded.

Arthritis Care and Research, published online: April 29

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