Belly Dancing Can Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain

by Karen Lee Richards Patient Advocate

Exercise is an important component of any fibromyalgia treatment plan. According to a Brazilian study recently published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, belly dancing can be a good exercise option for people with fibromyalgia.

Study Design and Result

A total of 80 female fibromyalgia patients between the ages of 18 to 65 took part in the study. Half (40) of the women were randomly assigned to a dance group while the other half remained on a waiting list. Those in the dance group participated in a one-hour class twice a week for 16 weeks.

Participants were evaluated for pain, function, quality of life, depression, anxiety and self image at baseline, 16 weeks and 32 weeks by an assessor who did not know whether or not they had participated in the dance classes.

Patients who took part in the belly dance classes showed significant improvement in pain, sleep pattern, functional capacity and self-image from baseline to 32 weeks. The researchers concluded that belly dancing is "a safe, effective therapeutic strategy for women with fibromyalgia."

My Thoughts...

As important as exercise is for those of us with FM, the pain can make it difficult to force ourselves do it as often as we should. A belly dancing class sounds like a fun way get the exercise we need and a little social interaction as well.

A few years ago I bought a belly dance instructional tape because I thought it would help target my biggest problem area--my tummy--as well as providing some good overall exercise. I have to confess, it was harder than it looked and I didn't stick with it. I think if I had been in a class with other women with FM, it might have been more fun and I would have stuck with it longer. Given the results of this study, I might just see if I can find a class in this area.


Baptista AS, et al. Effectiveness of dance in patients with fibromyalgia: a randomized, single-blind, controlled study. Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology. 2012 Sep 28. [Epub ahead of print]

Karen Lee Richards
Meet Our Writer
Karen Lee Richards

Karen is the co-founder of the National Fibromyalgia Association. She writes for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Pain Management.