Exercise recommendations in patients with newly diagnosed fibromyalgia

PM&R, 05/03/2012

Although there is well–documented evidence that exercise is beneficial for patients with fibromyalgia, the authors found that less than half of patients with newly diagnosed fibromyalgia in the study were provided recommendations to initiate an exercise program as part of their treatment plan. However, the findings indicate that there appears to be an opportunity to provide more specific and practical education regarding the implementation of an exercise regimen for patients with newly diagnosed fibromyalgia. Physiatrists may be particularly well suited to manage the exercise component of patients with fibromyalgia because of their specialized training in exercise prescription.


  • A retrospective chart review.
  • A public university rheumatology clinic.
  • Patients newly diagnosed with fibromyalgia (N = 122).
  • Frequency and type of exercise recommendations.


  • The mean (standard deviation) age of these patients with fibromyalgia was 45 ± 12 years; 91% were women.
  • Exercise was recommended as part of the documented treatment plan in 47% of these patients (57/122); only 3 patients had a documented contraindication for exercise.
  • Aquatic exercise was most frequently recommended (56% [32/57]), followed by combined aquatic–aerobic exercise (26% [15/57]), and, infrequently, aerobic exercise only (5% [3/57]); only 7% of these patients (4/57) were referred for physical therapy.
  • The primary method of communication was verbal discussion (94% [54/57]).

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