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