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Resistance exercise improves physical fatigue in women with fibromyalgia: a randomized controlled trial

Journal article
Authors Anna Ericsson
Annie Palstam
Anette Larsson
Monica Löfgren
Indre Bileviciute-Ljungar
Jan Bjersing
Björn Gerdle
Eva Kosek
Kaisa Mannerkorpi
Published in Arthritis Research & Therapy
Volume 18
ISSN 1478-6362
Publication year 2016
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Health and Rehabilitation
University of Gothenburg Centre for person-centred care (GPCC)
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Medicine, Department of Rheumatology and Inflammation Research
Language en
Keywords Fibromyalgia, resistance exercise, fatigue, RCT
Subject categories Other Medical Sciences


Background: Fibromyalgia (FM) affects approximately 1–3 % of the general population. Fatigue limits the work ability and social life of patients with FM. A few studies of physical exercise have included measures of fatigue in FM, indicating that exercise can decrease fatigue levels. There is limited knowledge about the effects of resistance exercise on multiple dimensions of fatigue in FM. The present study is a sub-study of a multicenter randomized controlled trial in women with FM. The purpose of the present sub-study was to examine the effects of a personcentered progressive resistance exercise program on multiple dimensions of fatigue in women with FM, and to investigate predictors of the potential change in fatigue. Methods: A total of 130 women with FM (age 22–64 years) were included in this assessor-blinded randomized controlled multicenter trial examining the effects of person-centered progressive resistance exercise compared with an active control group. The intervention was performed twice a week for 15 weeks. Outcomes were five dimensions of fatigue measured with the Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI-20). Information about background was collected and the women also completed several health-related questionnaires. Multiple linear stepwise regression was used to analyze predictors of change in fatigue in the total population. Results: A higher improvement was found at the post-treatment examination for change in the resistance exercise group, as compared to change in the active control group in the MFI-20 subscale of physical fatigue (resistance group Δ –1.7, SD 4.3, controls Δ 0.0, SD 2.7, p = 0.013), with an effect size of 0.33. Sleep efficiency was the strongest predictor of change in the MFI-20 subscale general fatigue (beta = −0.54, p = 0.031, R2 = 0.05). Participating in resistance exercise (beta = 1.90, p = 0.010) and working fewer hours per week (beta = 0.84, p = 0.005) were independent significant predictors of change in physical fatigue (R2 = 0.14). Conclusions: Person-centered progressive resistance exercise improved physical fatigue in women with FM when compared to an active control group. Trial registration: NCT01226784.

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