Fibromyalgia and Physical Activity

Are there differences in lifestyle between people with vs. without fibromyalgia (FM)?

A recent study found women with FM found spend more time engaged in sedentary behaviors and less time in physical activity. In the study, researchers followed 413 female patients with FM and 188 age-matched healthy female controls. Researchers used three different approaches to access physical activity: a triaxial accelerometer to examine sedentary time, time spent in physical activity, and step counts.

They discovered those who suffered from FM spent an average of 39 more minutes per day in sedentary activity and 21 fewer minutes per day in light physical activity, 17 fewer minutes per day in moderate physical activity, and 19 fewer minutes per day in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. In addition, those with FM took a mean of 1,881 fewer steps that those without FM.

Now, this isn’t really a surprise given the fact that people with FM are in pain and more likely to have difficulties sleeping and tolerating prolonged activities. After comparing the sufferers to the non-sufferers, the researchers found only 21% of FM patients vs. 46% of non-FM controls achieved the recommended 150 minutes/week (a little over 20 min. / day) of “moderate-to-vigorous” physical activity. They also found that only 16% vs. 45%, respectively, walked the recommended ≥10,000 steps per day.

One of the BEST forms of exercise for most people is walking. A walking program should be a staple exercise. It’s important to note that this should be GRADUALLY introduced so as to avoid an overuse injury—strain or sprain of the muscles and joints. This gradual introduction into activity is ESPECIALLY important for the FM sufferer as overuse injuries can make them afraid to do something that can REALLY help when done correctly!