How Much Isn’t Enough? Dosage of Intensity for Exercise

How Much Isn’t Enough?

Dosage of Intensity for Exercise

One of the principles of creating an exercise program is the “overload” principle, which states that you must challenge the body in order to produce a change. This applies to, not only to a physical therapy exercise program, but any fitness, health or wellness program that the general population may choose to perform as their mode of improving or maintaining their level of health. Within this overload principle, levels of intensity are variable, ranging from low, moderate, and high intensity; so what is the most beneficial?

A study from BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders explored this very question in a population of women with Fibromyalgia, along with a control group of women without Fibromyalgia. The purpose of this article was to compare the level of a hormone that gets released to build muscle fibers with moderate or high intensity, and whether it differs between women with or without Fibromyalgia.

The result showed no significant difference, which is an encouraging fact for anyone with a chronic pain condition, because they can produce a change, the same as someone without pain.

The common finding prior to and throughout this study was that women with Fibromyalgia would spend less time and intensity with exercise and therefore had lower muscular physical fitness, however, with education about the positive results of exercise at even a moderate intensity can produce positive muscular changes in the chronic pain population.


Mannerkorpi K, Landin-Wilhelmsen K, Larsson A, Cider Å, Arodell O, Bjersing J. Acute effects of physical exercise on the serum insulin-like growth factor system in women with fibromyalgia. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders [serial online]. January 25, 2017;18:1-8. Available from: Academic Search Complete, Ipswich, MA.

By: Dr. Melissa McCann, PT, DPT