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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Effects of lifestyle physical activity on perceived symptoms and physical function in adults with fibromyalgia: results of a randomized trial

Kevin R Fontaine1*, Lora Conn1 and Daniel J Clauw2

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Rheumatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 5200 Eastern Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA

2 Departments of Anesthesiology and Medicine (Rheumatology), University of Michigan, Chronic Pain & Fatigue Research Center, 24 Frank Lloyd Wright Lobby M, Ann Arbor, MI 48106, USA

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2010, 12:R55  doi:10.1186/ar2967

Published: 30 March 2010



Although exercise is therapeutic for adults with fibromyalgia (FM), its symptoms often create obstacles that discourage exercise. We evaluated the effects of accumulating at least 30 minutes of self-selected lifestyle physical activity (LPA) on perceived physical function, pain, fatigue, body mass index, depression, tenderness, and the six-minute walk test in adults with FM.


Eighty-four minimally active adults with FM were randomized to either LPA or a FM education control (FME) group. LPA participants worked toward accumulating 30 minutes of self-selected moderate-intensity LPA, five to seven days per week, while the FME participants received information and support.


Seventy-three of the 84 participants (87%) completed the 12-week trial. The LPA group increased their average daily steps by 54%. Compared to FME, the LPA group reported significantly less perceived functional deficits (P = .032) and less pain (P = .006). There were no differences between the groups on the six-minute walk test (P = .067), fatigue, depression, body mass index, or tenderness.


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.

Trial Registration NCT00383084