Does increasing steps per day predict improvement in physical function and pain interference in adults with fibromyalgia?

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2014 Dec;66(12):1887-94. doi: 10.1002/acr.22398.


Objective: To examine the concurrent and predictive associations between the number of steps taken per day and clinical outcomes in patients with fibromyalgia (FM).

Methods: A total of 199 adults with FM (mean age 46.1 years, 95% women) who were enrolled in a randomized clinical trial wore a hip-mounted accelerometer for 1 week and completed self-report measures of physical function (Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire-Physical Impairment [FIQ-PI], Short Form 36 [SF-36] health survey physical component score [PCS], pain intensity and interference (Brief Pain Inventory [BPI]), and depressive symptoms (Patient Health Questionnaire-8 [PHQ-8]) as part of their baseline and followup assessments. Associations of steps per day with self-report clinical measures were evaluated from baseline to week 12 using multivariate regression models adjusted for demographic and baseline covariates.

Results: Study participants were primarily sedentary, averaging 4,019 ± 1,530 steps per day. Our findings demonstrate a linear relationship between the change in steps per day and improvement in health outcomes for FM. Incremental increases on the order of 1,000 steps per day were significantly associated with (and predictive of) improvements in FIQ-PI, SF-36 PCS, BPI pain interference, and PHQ-8 (all P < 0.05). Although higher step counts were associated with lower FIQ and BPI pain intensity scores, these were not statistically significant.

Conclusion: Step count is an easily obtained and understood objective measure of daily physical activity. An exercise prescription that includes recommendations to gradually accumulate at least 5,000 additional steps per day may result in clinically significant improvements in outcomes relevant to patients with FM. Future studies are needed to elucidate the dose-response relationship between steps per day and patient outcomes in FM.

Trial registration: NCT00573612.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Fibromyalgia / physiopathology*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Walking / physiology*

Associated data