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Lifestyle physical activity 'can ease fibromyalgia symptoms'

Published on 31 March 2010
A lady gardening

Taking the stairs instead of the lift every day could help to ease the symptoms of fibromyalgia patients, new research suggests.

Writing in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy, researchers from John Hopkins University and John Hopkins Bayview Medical Center said lifestyle physical activity can both increase the average number of steps taken per day and reduce disability and pain in fibromyalgia sufferers.

The research team set out to investigate the effect 30 minutes of physical activity, undertaken five-to-seven days a week, had on 84 fibromyalgia patients.

The term LPA is used to describe physical exertion of moderate intensity which is achieved through taking part in everyday activities such as gardening and walking.

While previous research has shown that exercise can help fibromyalgia patients, symptoms can sometimes hamper efforts to exercise regularly.

To help with this, trial subjects were instructed on how to perform LPA rigorously enough to promote heavy breathing, but not intensely enough to stop someone from conducting a conversation.

LPA participants were found to take 54 per cent more steps on average every day and they also reported less pain.

"The nature of fibromyalgia's symptoms, the body pain and fatigue, make it hard for people with this malady to participate in traditional exercise," commented Kevin Fontaine from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

"We've shown that LPA can help them to get at least a little more physically active, and that this seems to help improve their symptoms."

A spokesman for Arthritis Research UK said that there were few treatments acknowledged to treat fibromyalgia successfully, but that certain types of aerobic exercise improved fitness, and reduced pain and fatigue.

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