Fibromyalgia: A Little Exercise Can Improve Symptoms
A recent study published in the March 30, 2010 online issue of Arthritis Research & Therapy found that patients with fibromyalgia benefited when they performed short bouts of self-selected lifestyle physical activity accumulating at least 30 minutes above their usual daily levels throughout the day. The subject population consisted of 84 minimally active individuals with fibromyalgia. They were randomly assigned to two groups: one cohort was encouraged to accumulate 30 minutes of self-selected moderate-intensity exercise throughout the day, 5-7 days per week; the second group received educational information and support, but were not given any specific exercise prescriptions or recommendations. The investigators evaluated the following factors in both groups: results of a six-minute walk test, body mass index, perceived physical function, and symptoms of depression, fatigue, pain, and tenderness. Eighty-seven percent (73 out of 84) of the participants completed the 12 week study.
Self-selected lifestyle activities varied and included walking, yard care, household responsibilities, and recreational sports (e.g., swimming). Data indicated that those subjects who were encouraged to increase their daily activity level by at least 30 minutes experienced a 54% increase in the average number of daily steps taken. This cohort also reported experiencing statistically significant less pain and an improved perception of physical function. No statistically significant differences were noted between the groups for the six-minute walk test, body mass index values, and symptoms of depression, fatigue, and tenderness.
The researchers conclude that individuals with fibromyalgia should be encouraged to increase daily physical activity in short bouts throughout the day, accumulating a total of at least 30 minutes. They also note, however, that the intervention only increased activity levels from a sedentary status to a low level of exercise. Therefore, individuals with fibromyalgia should seek to become more active without engaging in activities that may worsen their symptoms and, subsequently, impede their progress in the long-run.
Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:R55, "Effects of lifestyle physical activity on perceived symptoms and physical function in adults with fibromyalgia: results of a randomized trial," Fontaine, K.R., et al.