Obesity, Inactivity Increase Risk of Fibromyalgia

Obesity in women has been linked to higher rates of fibromyalgia, a condition that causes pain and tenderness throughout the body.

Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have found a link between obesity in women and fibromyalgia, an incurable disease that causes chronic pain. The study found an increased risk for fibromyalgia in women who lead a sedentary lifestyle and have a higher body mass index (BMI).

Fibromyalgia (FM) is diagnosed when a patient suffers from chronic pain that lasts for more than three months, tender joints, headaches, unexplained fatigue and mood disturbances. Although the exact cause of FM is unknown, the risk for developing FM increases with age and is more common in women than in men.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 16,000 women spanning 11 years. They found that women who exercised four times per week had a 29 percent lower risk of fibromyalgia compared with inactive women. A high BMI was also associated with a lower pain tolerance among patients with FM when compared to sufferers of a normal weight. Study findings were published online last week in the journal Arthritis Care and Research.

The exact connection between FM and obesity is unknown, and researchers are continuing their studies to determine the cause. However, they note that regular physical activity can help lessen the chance of developing the condition and improve overall health.

In a press statement, lead researcher Dr. Paul Mork said, “These findings, together with the current study, indicate that regular physical exercise, and thereby improved physical fitness, may serve as a buffer against the perpetuation of musculoskeletal symptoms that eventually lead to the development of FM.”

8 Responses

  1. Cathy

    I think it is more likely that undiagnosed FM leads to inactivity plus overeating to stimulate the release of endorphins and consequently obesity,

  2. L YOUNG

    I cannot agree with this theory. As someone who walked a regular 5-10 miles daily for pleasure with my dogs, until affected, it would appear unlikely that my “SEDENTARY” lifestyle could not possibly contribute to my having fibromyalgia.

    L Young

  3. Char

    I have been active most of my life, and when I was diagnosed with FM I was thin….over the years, gained weight from inactivity from pain….so this theory, really is misinformation and not accurate.

  4. Yvonne McCarthy

    I would love to encourage any FM sufferers to check out a book called “They Can’t Find Anything Wrong” by David Clarke. I heard him interviewed for over an hour and he has helped many FM patients and also patients of what he calls “stress illness” that expresses itself as unexplainable pain in the body. He explains how dealing with some internal anger issues has literally cured many of these illnesses and pain. Whether you are open to that theory or not it may be worth the read. It has already helped me with shoulder/neck pain that cannot be detected with an MRI. Best of luck to everyone. Yvonne

  5. Deb

    I have FM and CFS. I was very active before I had full-blown FM. I swam, danced (ballet), ran, walked,rowed, played tennis, and led an active life. The idea that being sedentary caused my FM is ridiculous. I did gain weight as I became less active, but it is because I was too tired and ill to exercise. I also have NASH, and my doctor told me it is because my mitochondria are not working properly. It maked sense that this has also affected other areas of my body.

  6. admin

    I also encourage FM sufferers to seek out a skilled and very experienced acupuncturist. Eastern medicine is an excellent option for treating “systemic” issues like FM.

  7. Cathy

    I found this page by asking the question is weight loss and getting Fibromyalgia were connected. Not weight gain. Evidently, there needs to be alot more testing on this subject.

  8. Simyra

    I am dealing with FM for the last 2 years. After a long battle of not knowing what these pain were. I have slowed at doing most of my activities but I am determine to beat this problem. Regardless of the issues and the pain I still fight and pay the consequence later. I have received a little help from this product I found online called Real Time Pain Relief. It’s a rub on pain relief lotion.


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