Health professionals advising myositis patients now encourage carefully tailored exercise. Early thinking advised against exercise, for fear of increased inflammation leading to weakness. Recent studies have shown that regular exercise may have an anti-inflammatory effect and can improve strength and daily function for myositis patients.

Since 1993 there have been several published studies which have reported beneficial effects from following a tailored exercise programme.

Studies in Sweden by Helene Anderson and Ingrid E. Lundberg have been particularly encouraging – see our Resources page which summarises the findings of those studies and concludes:

“Accumulated evidence supports safety and efficacy of exercise in polymyositis and dermatomyositis, although data is more inconclusive for efficacy in patients with IBM”.

The studies have revealed that the exercise programme should be tailored to each individual and progress very slowly. A mix of aerobic and stretching with at least 1 day rest per week has been suggested as an approach. Weak throat muscles can benefit from specific exercises suggested by a speech pathologist.

Australian research results authored by Liam Johnson, Dylan J. Edwards, Susan Walters, Gary W. Thickbroom and Frank L. Mastaglia, which are particularly focussed on the impact of exercise on IBM patients can also be found on our Resources page.

A video of a presentation about exercise and myositis which was given at the Annual Myositis Conference in the USA  in 2015 can be found on the website www.myositis.org.

Patients could consider consulting:

  • an exercise physiologist (www.essa.org.au)
  • a physiotherapist with interest in neuromuscular conditions or rehabilitation
  • pilates instructor
  • speech therapist (for swallowing difficulties)
  • a doctor or trainor specialised in rehabilitation
  • a community based exercise programme but which is tailored to individuals
  • an individualised hydrotherapy programme
  • a tai chi instructor

*This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Consult your doctor before embarking on an exercise programme. Exercise during and after pregnancy can also be beneficial but an experienced exercise physiologist or physiotherapist with expertise in working with pregnant women should be consulted.