If you have fibromyalgia (FM), the last thing you probably feel like doing is going for a brisk walk or working in the garden. But that's exactly what researchers from Johns Hopkins say will help improve your symptoms.
Recently, JHU researchers recruited 84 FM patients with sedentary lifestyles to take part in a 12-week study. They asked half of the participants to increase their daily physical activity to include 30 minutes of moderate exercise five to seven days a week. (And we're not talking about strenuous exercise. Researchers just wanted the patients to exercise enough to get short of breath, but still be able to hold a conversation.)
The other group of FM patients didn't make changes to their physical routine. Instead, they received education and support about fibromyalgia. The researchers also outfitted all the participants with a pedometer to record how many steps they took in a given day.
After 12 weeks, the exercise group increased the number of steps they took per day by 54 percent. They reported significantly less pain and fewer problems functioning in their daily lives.
In his report, lead researcher Kevin R. Fontaine, PhD, concluded, "Although exercise has been shown to be beneficial, the symptoms often create obstacles that deter many from exercising consistently enough to derive benefits." However, he continued, "Accumulating 30 minutes of [exercise] throughout the day produces clinically relevant changes in perceived physical function and pain in previously minimally active adults with FM."
Now, if you have fibromyalgia, try starting out slow with a brisk walk up and down your street. The following week, try going a little further. Plus, remember that you don't have to get all 30 minutes of exercise at one time. You can do 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the evening. The goal is just to get moving to get you feeling better in the long run!