Home-Based Aerobic Conditioning for Management of Symptoms of Fibromyalgia: A Pilot Study

R. Norman Harden*, Sharon Song, Jo Fasen, Samuel L. Saltz, Devi Nampiaparampil, Andrew Vo, Gadi Revivo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective. This pilot study was designed to evaluate the impact of a home-based aerobic conditioning program on symptoms of fibromyalgia and determine if changes in symptoms were related to quantitative changes in aerobic conditioning (VO2 max). Methods. Twenty-six sedentary individuals diagnosed with fibromyalgia syndrome participated in an individualized 12-week home-based aerobic exercise program with the goal of daily aerobic exercise of 30 minutes at 80% of estimated maximum heart rate. The aerobic conditioning took place in the participants' homes, outdoors, or at local fitness clubs at the discretion of the individual under the supervision of a physical therapist. Patients were evaluated at baseline and completion for physiological level of aerobic conditioning (VO2 max), pain ratings, pain disability, depression, and stress. Results. In this pilot study subjects who successfully completed the 12-week exercise program demonstrated an increase in aerobic conditioning, a trend toward decrease in pain measured by the McGill Pain Questionnaire-Short Form and a weak trend toward improvements in visual analog scale, depression, and perceived stress. Patients who were unable or unwilling to complete this aerobic conditioning program reported significantly greater pain and perceived disability (and a trend toward more depression) at baseline than those who completed the program. Conclusions. Patients suffering from fibromyalgia who can participate in an aerobic conditioning program may experience physiological and psychological benefits, perhaps with improvement in symptoms of fibromyalgia, specifically pain ratings. More definitive trials are needed, and this pilot demonstrates the feasibility of the quantitative VO2 max method. Subjects who experience significant perceived disability and negative affective symptoms are not likely to maintain a home-based conditioning program, and may need a more comprehensive interdisciplinary program offering greater psychological and social support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)835-842
Number of pages8
JournalPain Medicine (United States)
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Aerobic Conditioning
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Pain Pressure Threshold
  • Pain Rating
  • Psychometric Testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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