Fibromyalgia and the Nature of Pain Itself: Part 3, Groups vs. Solo Exercise

By | August 8, 2011

Group exercise classes seem to have a higher rate of success than individual exercise programs.

One of the things that becomes clear after talking to chronic pain patients in general and fibromyalgia patients in particular, especially those in a period of crisis is their profound social isolation. Even those who are married with families seem to drop out of normal family life during periods of increased pain. When evaluating exercise programs I have been struck by another consistent finding. Group activities are much more successful than individual exercise regimens. There are a number of possible explanations for this. Perhaps it is not the exercise but the social interactions that are therapeutic.

Militating against this point of view is the fact that while fibromyalgia patients generally like support groups they do not describe the kind of physical improvement with them that they attribute to their exercise programs. Also most fibromyalgia patients who are doing well are involved in both group and individual exercise programs and they describe the same benefits in each case. What does appear to be a consistent advantage to exercise groups is the increased rate of compliance or persistence for newly diagnosed patients and patients attempting to emerge from a period of crisis.

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