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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fibromyalgia: A Little Exercise Can Improve Symptoms

Fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that affects over 5 million Americans, is a rheumatic disorder that is characterized by widespread pain in the body's soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and ligaments).  Women are 8 times more likely to be affected than men.  Symptoms of fibromyalgia - which include body pain and tenderness, sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, difficulty concentrating, poor memory, altered mood states, and irritable bowel syndrome - can interfere with day-to-day functioning.  These debilitating symptoms make it difficult for affected individuals to consistently engage in physical activity levels that meet the government's 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for the general public (150-300 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity exercise per week).  Because of this, alternative ways to increase daily activity levels without overtaxing the patient with fibromyalgia have been investigated.

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.

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April 25, 2010 at 9:26 AM 

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