Fibromyalgia is a condition most commonly affecting women, especially postmenopausal, and is primarily characterized by widespread pain, moderate to severe fatigue and difficulty sleeping. After noting that most fibromyalgia studies had focused on women under 50 years of age, Finnish researchers conducted a study on postmenopausal women to assess their overall fitness as compared to women without fibromyalgia. Researchers found no difference in upper body strength between the two groups but found the fibromyalgia group had less strength in the legs. During exercise testing, the fibromyalgia group was found to reach exhaustion at a lower maximal heart rate, although oxygen uptake was the same. According to the researchers, the fibromyalgia patients were unable to withstand physical loading and resist overall fatigue. Researchers reported that "fatigue rather than pain appears to decrease the quality of life and limit the physical performance of the patients." Based on their findings, they recommended that "more attention should be paid to train muscle performance, together with overall training of physical fitness, when developing rehabilitation programs for postmenopausal women with fibromyalgia."
Source: International Journal of Sports Medicine, May 2008.