Healthy Living

Exercise and Fibro: It's More Than Just Not Wanting to Go to the Gym

Exercise and Fibro: It's More Than Just Not Wanting to Go to the Gym

Fibromyalgia patients know how debilitating the disorder can be. Because the symptoms affect multiple parts of the body at once, this disorder could do more than just disrupt someone's daily routine.

Currently, there is no cure for fibromyalgia. So, patients have to work closely with their physician to treat their symptoms (and for some patients, this treatment barely works). Treatment for patients is usually a mix of lifestyle changes and medications. Doctors do recommend patients to remain active, but sometimes, this option isn't always possible.

It only seems logical for exercise to help stretch patients' weakened muscles, but some fibromyalgia patients simply can't tolerate it. Why? Researchers want to know that, too. This is why recent studies have attempted to understand the reality of many fibro patients: Exercise intolerance.

Yes, it's a real thing, and it's so much more than not wanting to go the gym.

Is exercise intolerance just a sorry excuse to not want to go to the gym? Absolutely not. Exercise intolerance is defined as the inability to perform physical activity. While researchers are still trying to understand the condition, this much is true:  

  • It’s a real thing. Some people are unable to physically push their bodies or exercise, even for a normal duration of time.
  • Those who suffer from exercise intolerance can experience severe pain, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and other negative side effects. You can even damage your heart if you push your body past its limits.
  • Exercise intolerance is one of the major symptoms of chronic diastolic heart failure.

Based off a number of trials and tests, researchers have suggested a link between exercise intolerance and certain conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, heart disease, mitochondrial disease, and metabolic disorders.

Researchers have attempted to dig deep into this connection between exercise intolerance and fibromyalgia.

After identifying the connection between disorders like fibromyalgia and exercise intolerance has been identified, researchers wanted to dig deeper. In the first round of tests, referred to as non-invasive cardio pulmonary exercise testing, researchers gathered a great foundation to help them identify if any patient had present lung issues, as well as what aerobic and anaerobic components were contributing to the issue. 

Invasive cardiopulmonary exercise testing, also known as ICPET, requires the use of catheters that are inserted into the pulmonary artery and the radial arteries.

  • The pulmonary artery is what carries the deoxygenated blood from the right ventricle of the heart to the lungs to be oxygenated.
  • The radial artery is the major artery in the forearm. Its job is to supply oxygenated blood from the lungs to the arm and hand.

The catheters helped researchers determine the exact amount of oxygen in the blood, as well as monitor the body’s blood flow and any other factors that show when the patient is exercising. This helps researchers determine how much oxygen the muscles are using when they're active.

Read on to better understand exercise intolerance and its connection to fibromyalgia.