Fibromyalgia patients are among the population of individuals who benefit from walking groups. Walking is suggested to significantly increase energy levels, improve sleep, and enable fibromyalgia patients to perform daily activities with less effort. A study from British Journal of Sports Medicine also found that simply joining and participating in a walking group boosts overall health.
Data from more than 2,000 people — some of whom had fibromyalgia — from 14 different countries was collected from 42 studies that evaluated the physical and mental health effects of joining an adult outdoor walking group. The researchers collecting the data compiled their conclusions in “Is There Evidence That Walking Groups Have Health Benefits? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”
As may be expected, joining a walking group increased physical activity in the studied subjects, but there were also wide ranging health benefits that came from walking. Pooled data showed a decrease in average blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, body weight, and total cholesterol.
Adding to these benefits, participants also experienced greater lung power, overall physical function, and general fitness and had an overall better outlook on life. These effects are welcome in patients with fibromyalgia, as pain can be extremely debilitating and lead to a feeling of depression.
Not all aspects of health were affected by joining a walking group. There was no clear benefit in reducing some other risk factors for poor health, including waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, and blood fats. Certainly, joining a walking group did not adversely affect health, with the exception of a few bumps or bruises from falling on roots or slipping on wet ground.
Three quarters of the people studied stuck with their walking group. Doctors who care for fibromyalgia patients may want to encourage continued involvement to reap the full benefits of joining a walking group.
The study did acknowledge that it may be difficult to encourage exercise compliance. At least 29% of adults in England partake in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every week, and at least 10% complete no more than five continuous minutes of walking a day.
Regardless, the authors acknowledged that “Walking groups are effective and safe with good adherence and wide ranging health benefits. They could be a promising intervention as an adjunct to other healthcare, or as a proactive health-promoting activity.”