Physical activity levels among people with fibromyalgia: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Davy Vancampfort, Tine Van Damme, Ryan L. McGrath, Vanessa Albanio Machado, Felipe Schuch

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)



It is unclear how much physical activity (PA) people with fibromyalgia (PwF) engage in. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine PA levels in PwF and compared levels with age- and gender-matched controls and between objective and subjective assessments.


Embase, PubMed and CINAHL Plus were searched by two independent reviewers from inception till 3 January 2023 using the keywords: ‘fibromyalgia’ OR ‘fibrositis’ AND ‘physical activity’ OR ‘exercise’ OR ‘sports’. A random effects meta-analysis adjusting for publication bias was conducted.


Across 22 studies, there were 5997 (5956 women) PwF (median age = 44 years). After trim and fill adjustment, PwF spent a mean of 4.0 (95% CI = 2.3–5.8) min/day in vigorous PA, 67.5 (95% CI = 35.4–99.6) min/day in moderate intensity PA and 270.5 (95% CI = 99.6–441.4) min/day in light PA. Only 37.7% (95% CI = 18.7–61.5) of PwF achieved the public PA recommendation of 150 min of moderate to vigorous PA per week. PwF walked 5663.7 (95% CI = 4493.5–6833.9) steps per day, which is below the 6000 steps per day recommendation. PwF spent 39.0 min/day (95% CI = 22.8–55.1, p < 0.001) less in PA than healthy controls, while MET-minutes per week is 1324.7 (95 % CI = 237.6–2411.7, p = 0.017) lower. There were no significant differences between subjective and objective PA assessments (p = 0.69).


Our data demonstrate that the majority of PwF are still insufficiently physically active to obtain significant health benefits. Future clinical PA interventions specifically targeting the prevention of physical inactivity in PwF and engaging physically inactive PwF to become physically active are warranted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-632
Number of pages10
JournalMusculoskeletal Care
Issue number3
Early online dateApr 2023
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023


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