PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The benefits of general aerobic exercise for individuals with fibromyalgia have been established. Recently, there have been a number of randomized controlled trials that evaluate the benefits of pool exercise for fibromyalgia. This review will integrate the results of eight pool exercise studies that have been published in the last 7 years.
RECENT FINDINGS: Pool exercise has been evaluated against sedentary control groups, land-based exercise and immersion in a warm, mineralized pool. Pool exercise has been shown to be as effective as land-based exercise and may have greater benefits with respect to mood and sleep duration. Based on follow-up studies, exercise-induced improvements in physical function, pain and mood may persist for up to 2 years. Pool exercise may be better tolerated as an initial means of exercise by individuals with arthritis in weight-bearing joints (because of water buoyancy) or by individuals who fear exercise will exacerbate their pain.
SUMMARY: Pool exercise can be an effective intervention for individuals with fibromyalgia. Future studies should reassess subjects at multiple time points to determine the time course of exercise-induced improvements and further explore the effects of pool exercise on mood and sleep quality.