In the Journals

Study: Walking more improves fibromyalgia symptoms

Patients with fibromyalgia who gradually increased the number of steps walked daily had improved self-reported physical function, level of impairment and depressive symptoms with no negative impact on pain intensity.

In the study, 216 patients with fibromyalgia (FM) between the ages of 18 years to 65 years were referred from specialty or primary clinics. Exclusion criteria included cardiovascular or pulmonary disease, other inflammatory rheumatoid conditions or neurologic or musculoskeletal disorders that exclude moderate activity. Overall, 199 patients completed the randomized clinical trial, which included motivational interviewing as a technique to encourage exercise. Patients completed a Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) to assess symptom severity.

At baseline, participants received two supervised exercise sessions and an individual exercise prescription regarding the intensity, duration and frequency of exercise recommended during the ensuing 36 weeks. Six telephone calls followed in each group. One group received exercise-based motivational interviews in the calls, while the other group received FM-based educational phone calls over a 12-week period. Activity levels were assessed in steps walked using ActiGraph GT1M accelerometers.

Follow-up was conducted at 12 weeks, 24 weeks and 36 weeks. All clinical values improved in general. Brief Pain Inventory (BPI) and depression scores decreased through week 12. Clinically meaningful improvements were seen at 4,900 steps in physical function and in BPI pain interference at 8,200 steps. Motivational interviewing did not improve activity levels. 

Researchers estimated sedentary FM patients who take additional steps daily to meet current the public health recommendations of 7,000 to 8,000 steps per day could improve their symptoms by 30%.

Disclosure: No financial disclosure information was available at the time of publication.