Introduction: The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of moderate-to-high intensity Nordic walking (NW) on functional capacity and pain in fibromyalgia (FM).
Methods: A total of 67 women with FM were recruited to the study and randomized either to moderate-to-high intensity Nordic Walking (n = 34, age 48 ± 7.8 years) or to a control group engaging in supervised low-intensity walking (LIW, n = 33, age 50 ± 7.6 years). Primary outcomes were the six-minute walk test (6MWT) and the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire Pain scale (FIQ Pain). Secondary outcomes were: exercise heart rate in a submaximal ergometer bicycle test, the FIQ Physical (activity limitations) and the FIQ total score.
Results: A total of 58 patients completed the post-test. Significantly greater improvement in the 6MWT was found in the NW group (P = 0.009), as compared with the LIW group. No between-group difference was found for the FIQ Pain (P = 0.626). A significantly larger decrease in exercise heart rate (P = 0.020) and significantly improved scores on the FIQ Physical (P = 0.027) were found in the NW group as compared with the LIW group. No between-group difference was found for the change in the FIQ total. The effect sizes were moderate for the above mentioned outcomes.
Conclusions: Moderate-to-high intensity aerobic exercise by means of Nordic walking twice a week for 15 weeks was found to be a feasible mode of exercise, resulting in improved functional capacity and a decreased level of activity limitations. Pain severity did not change over time during the exercise period.
Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov identifier NCT00643006.