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Review: aerobic exercise improves cardiovascular fitness and tender points in fibromyalgia

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QUESTION: In patients with fibromyalgia, is exercise training effective for improving symptoms such as physical function, pain, and tender points?

Data sources

Studies were identified by searching Medline (1966–2000), CINAHL (1982–2000), EMBASE/Excerpta Medica (1974–2000), HealthSTAR (1990–2000), Sports Discus (1975–2000), the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register (2000, Issue 4), and reviewing bibliographies of relevant articles.

Study selection

Studies published in any language were selected if they were randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing an intervention that included an exercise component with an untreated control or other non-exercise interventions and patients had a diagnosis of fibromyalgia based on published criteria.

Data extraction

2 reviewers independently extracted data on sample size, details of the intervention, study quality, and outcomes. Main outcomes included pain, tender points, physical function, global wellbeing or perceived improvement, self efficacy, psychological function, fatigue, and sleep.

Main results

16 RCTs that evaluated 23 exercise interventions for fibromyalgia met the selection criteria. Types of interventions included aerobic training, flexibility training, …

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  • For correspondence: Professor A Busch, School of Physical Therapy, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. angela.busch{at}

  • Source of funding: not stated.