Resistance Training May Curb Fatigue in Fibromyalgia

weight resistance training exercise
weight resistance training exercise
Exercise is known to be beneficial in fibromyalgia management; however few studies have examined its specific effects on fatigue.

Progressive resistance training helps to relieve fatigue in women with fibromyalgia, according to results from a study published in Arthritis Research and Therapy.

Exercise in general has been shown to be beneficial in fibromyalgia; however few studies have compared measures of fatigue.

To better understand the impact of exercise, specifically resistance training, on fatigue in fibromyalgia, Anna Ericsson, PT, PhD, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, and colleagues conducted a sub-study of a multicenter randomized controlled trial ( NCT01226784).

In total, 130 women aged 20-65 years who met the American College of Rheumatology 1990 classifications criteria for fibromyalgia were included in the sub-study. The participants were randomized to either the resistance exercise group (n=67) or the active control group (n=63), with no notable differences in sociodemographics between the groups. Fatigue outcomes were measured with the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI-20).

Treatment took place twice per week for 15 weeks, after which participants in both groups completed a post-treatment exam (n=56; n=49). The exercise group participated in a progressive resistance exercise intervention that included 50 minutes of resistance work on large muscle groups in all extremities and the trunk. Approximately 62% of participants in the exercise group reached exercise loads of 80%. The active control group participated in twice weekly relaxation therapy, included autogenic training, for 25-minute sessions.

At post-treatment examination, participants in the exercise group demonstrated a significantly greater improvement in MFI-20 subscales measuring general fatigue (P= .031), physical fatigue (P= .013), and mental fatigue (P= .008) compared to the active control group. After adjustment, the change between groups remained significant for only physical fatigue (P=.044), with an effect size of 0.33. Notably, sleep efficiency most strongly predicted change in MFI-20 general fatigue (beta = −0.54, P= .031, R 2 = 0.05), while participating in resistant exercise and worker fewer hours weekly were significant predictors of change in physical fatigue (R 2 = 0.14).

“Although the improvement in physical fatigue was small in effect size, it is valuable for patients describing themselves as physically weak and becoming fatigued after doing very little, which causes deterioration in their quality of life and ability to manage daily activities,” the authors concluded.


Ericsson A, Palstam A, Larsson A, et al. Resistance exercise improves physical fatigue in women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Res Ther. 2016;18:176.