By Ed Coghlan
A piece of non-Olympian swimming news out of Brazil may be notable for fibromyalgia sufferers.
Researchers from the Federal University of Sau Paulo report that swimming is at least as effective as walking for fibromyalgia sufferers.
It is established that exercise is an important tactic in dealing with fibromyalgia. But fibro sufferers often have other medical issues, like arthritis, that inhibit them from walking long distances. And, of course, fatigue is a common malady that accompanies fibromyalgia, so “getting exercise” is easier said than done.
The study’s control group included walkers, who each completed 50 minutes of brisk walking three times a week for 12 weeks, and their experimental group was women who swam at the same intervals for the same amount of time. Women were all diagnosed with fibromyalgia and between 18 and 60 years old.
“Swimming has not been evaluated with proper scientific rigor. The results of this trial show that swimming is just as effective as walking for those who suffer from fibromyalgia,” said Dr. Jamil Natour, a professor of rheumatology at the University.
For fibro sufferers like Kerry Smith, this research isn’t surprising.
Smith, who lives in Tennessee, has suffered from fibromyalgia and other chronic pain issues for 15 years and getting enough exercise has always been a problem.
“Some recent lifestyle changes included swimming and getting into the pool has helped me not only deal with my fibromyalgia but has more in a more positive space,” he said. “Swimming is easy on the joints, easier than some of the weight bearing exercises like walking.”
Dr. Natour agreed.
“Physical exercise is an essential component of any treatment for fibromyalgia, and plenty of studies have demonstrated that low-impact aerobic exercise offers the most benefits. However, not everyone likes or is able to do the same kind of physical activity, so our group decided to test alternatives.”
People with fibromyalgia can use exercise to help relieve some of their symptoms and discomfort says Dr. Ginevra Liptan of Portland, Oregon.
Liptan is the founder and medical director of the Frida Center for Fibromyalgia in Portland, Oregon. She was diagnosed with fibromyalgia when she was in medical school and has since dedicated herself to helping people with the disorder.
Her recent book The FibroManual: A Complete Fibromyalgia Treatment Guide for You and Your Doctor addresses the importance of exercise.
Add swimming to the list of things to try.