Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the immediate effects of a 6-mo combined exercise program on quality-of-life, physical function, depression, and aerobic capacity in women with fibromyalgia syndrome and to determine the impact of repeated delivery of the intervention.
Design: Forty-one women with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned to a training group (EG; n = 21) and a control group (CG; n = 20). Quality-of-life and physical function were assessed using the 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) and the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, and depression was measured using the Beck Depression Inventory. Physical fitness was measured using the 6-min Walk Test. Outcomes were assessed at baseline and after each 6-mo intervention, which was delivered over 30 mos (6 mos of training and 6 mos of detraining).
Results: After a 6-mo combined exercise program, there was a significant improvement in the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (P < 0.0005) for the training group over the control group. Repeated-measures analysis of variance across all time points demonstrated significant main effects for time for the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, SF-36, Beck Depression Inventory and the 6-min Walk Test, but there were no between-group interaction effects. For the EG, there were significant within-group changes in the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, SF-36, and Beck Depression Inventory at the final time point; however, there were no within-group changes for the control group. Improvement achieved for the training group were maintained during the detraining period.
Conclusions: A long-term exercise program can produce immediate improvements in key health domains in women with fibromyalgia. The benefits achieved with regular training can be maintained for 30 mos. The lack of difference between groups over time may be caused by attrition and consequent lack of power at the final time point.