Study Shows Lifestyle Changes Improve Fibromyalgia Symptoms

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • A study published in the journal Arthritis Research and Therapy demonstrated that short periods of physical activity can help reduce fibromyalgia pain and increase function. 

    Although past studies have supported that exercise is an important component of any fibromyalgia treatment plan, the pain and symptom flares often make it difficult for patients to stick with any kind of regular exercise program.  This time, instead of studying specific exercise techniques, researchers looked at the effects of simply having patients add short bursts of physical activities that are part of everyday life. 

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    Study Methods

    84 FM patients were separated into two groups.  One group received FM education and support (FME) and the other group was asked to work toward adding a total of 30 minutes of “Lifestyle Physical Activity” (LPA) to their daily routine for five to seven days a week.  LPA was described to be short bouts of physical activity of moderate intensity – enough to cause heavy breathing but not enough to prevent holding a conversation – such as climbing up stairs, walking and gardening. 

    Study Results

    The LPA group increased the average number of steps they took daily by 54 percent.  They also reported significantly less perceived functional deficits and less pain than the FME group.  The study concluded, “Accumulating 30 minutes of LPA throughout the day produces clinically relevant changes in perceived physical function and pain in previously minimally active adults with FM.”

    My Comments...

    I am very glad to see this study.  I've always thought that asking FM patients to do 30 minutes a day of exercise was more than many of us could handle.  But just adding a few minutes of movement to our day by parking further away from the store or taking the stairs instead of the elevator is something most of us could manage to do.  I've found that even walking around my house while I'm talking on the phone instead of sitting makes a difference. 

    If you've found some little ways you can add some “lifestyle physical activity” to your day, please share it with us by commenting below.

    Source:  Fontaine KR, et al. Effects of lifestyle physical activity on perceived symptoms and physical function in adults with fibromyalgia: results of a randomized trial. Arthritis Res Ther. 2010 Mar 30;12(2):R55.

Published On: April 07, 2010