Stretching exercise could help improve fibromyalgia patients’ physical functioning and quality of life, while resistance training can help fight depression, note researchers.

In their study, published recently in the European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine, scientists from the University of São Paulo wished to see how stretching and resistance exercise could help fibromyalgia patients.

The team divided the 44 participants, aged 30 to 55 into three groups: a stretching group, a resistance training group, and a control group.

The stretching group performed 40 minutes of stretching exercises without a therapist’s assistance twice a week, for 12 weeks. The trainers increased the intensity of the workouts over time.

Over the same 12-week, twice-per-week period, the resistance training group performed eight repetitions of resistance exercises, with more weight being added per week.

The control group received standard fibromyalgia treatment, but performed no exercise, according to a news story from Fibromyalgia News Today.

At the end of the 12-week period, participants in the stretching group reported that they were able to endure pain better. They also showed significant improvement in their symptoms and their quality of life. Those in the resistance training group showed both physical and symptom improvements.

According to the researchers, in their analysis, stretching significantly improved the patients’ ability to deal with pain and to function better physically, while resistance training helped reduce the patients’ depression.

Participants in the control group reported the highest morning-fatigue and stiffness scores among the three groups, as well as the lowest score for vitality.

The researchers conclude, per the news story, that stretching had the biggest impact on patients’ quality of life, while resistance training had the biggest impact on fibromyalgia symptoms and on patients’ physical functioning, vitality, social interaction, and mental health.

“The muscle stretching exercise program was the most effective modality in improving quality of life, especially physical functioning and pain, and resistance training was the most effective modality in reducing depression,” the team write, in their study.

“In clinical [doctor’s office] practice, we suggest including both modalities in programs of exercise therapy for fibromyalgia,” they conclude, the news story states.

[Source: Fibromyalgia News Today]