Aerobic versus Anaerobic

Another article about swimming and fibromyalgia: Swimming improves pain and functional capacity of patients with fibromyalgia: A randomized controlled trial, by Fernandes et al (see library).  This one is interesting in two ways:

  1. Their study has two groups, one walking and one swimming.  Both groups swam/walked for 50 minutes, three times a week, for 12 weeks.  There was no difference in pain reduction results between the swimming group and the walking group.  There were also equal improvements in functional capacity and quality of life between both groups.
  2. Both groups exercised at below aerobic capacity, therefore their aerobic capacity did not improve over the 12 weeks.

The second is the most interesting to me.  This is (I think) the first study that targeted anaerobic levels of exercise.  I’ll have to look further, but so far, for me, the exercises that hit aerobic capacity – or beyond in the case of Crossfit – have done the best in terms of pain reduction, and I’ve always read that mild to moderate aerobic conditioning  was best for fibro patients.  Again, as always, everyone is different.

Generally, what I’m reading is that patients should start at below their exercising capacity and then work up to low to moderate levels of exercise two to three times a week.  This study mentions another study (Hauser et al – I’ll need to find it) that says fibro patients should exercise at an intensity that they can carry on a conversation with another person while they exercise.  I’ve never had benefit from any exercise when I could talk reasonably at the same time.

I’ve done the walking – brisk walking is the only pace that helps over time, and I can’t converse while walking briskly.  I’ve done the stretching – that has only helped individual joints and back, for short periods of time.

Exercises where I can feel my heart rate increase, where I get out of breath and can’t talk to the person next to me – those are the ones that have had solid pain reduction results.  In addition, weight lifting, which is quite anaerobic, was detrimental for pain reduction.

I’ll have to check out other studies that have looked at the differences in effects between aerobic and anaerobic exercises.

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