Fibromyalgia sufferers often seek out massage for pain relief, and many studies have shown massage benefits symptoms related to the syndrome. New, unrelated, research shows moderate exercise also benefits people who have fibromyalgia.

The research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center showed engaging in light to moderate exercise over a prolonged period of time “improves overall symptoms, such as fatigue and trouble sleeping, while not increasing pain,” noted a press release.

Study participants who engaged in moderate intensity exercise for at least 12 weeks showed greater improvements in clinical symptoms as compared to participants who were unable to achieve higher levels of physical activity.

“For many people with fibromyalgia, they will exercise for a week or two and then start hurting and think that exercise is aggravating their pain, so they stop exercising,” said Dennis Ang, M.D., associate professor of internal medicine and senior author of the study. “We hope that our findings will help reduce patients’ fear and reassure them that sustained exercise will improve their overall health and reduce their symptoms without worsening their pain.”

The findings were published in the journal Arthritis Care & Research.