Benefits of physical activity for fibromyalgia

Usually, it’s the last thing patients want to do.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in Baltimore, Maryland, let patients select their physical activity routine.

First, the details.

  • 84 minimally active adults (almost all women) with fibromyalgia were randomly assigned to a treatment group for 12 weeks.
    • Self-selected lifestyle physical activity: Patients worked toward accumulating 30 minutes of self-selected moderate-intensity lifestyle physical activity, (walking, yard work, using the stairs, etc.) 5 to 7 days per week.
    • Fibromyalgia education: Information and support.
  • Participants wore pedometers to record their steps.

And, the results.

  • The lifestyle physical activity group increased their average daily steps by 54%.
  • Compared to education, lifestyle physical activity was associated with significantly less perceived functional deficits and less pain.
  • There were no differences between groups in the 6-minute walk test (distance walked in 6 minutes), fatigue, depression, body mass index, or tenderness.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Accumulating 30 minutes of lifestyle physical activity throughout the day produces clinically relevant changes in perceived physical function and pain in previously minimally active adults with fibromyalgia.”

A review of exercise and behavioral therapies for fibromyalgia from 2 years ago reported that combined aerobic exercise plus strength training had positive effects on pain and/or disability.

This study suggests that less rigorous activity is also beneficial.

3/31/10 21:12 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.