In a new study from the University of Portsmouth, researchers found people hoping to avoid one of the worst side effects of aging—bone, joint, and muscle pain that doesn’t go away— need to exercise a lot harder and more often than previously believed.
They found only high levels of activity at least once a week—playing tennis, running, swimming, digging with a spade, or doing hard physical labor as part of your job—appears to help ward off chronic musculoskeletal pain in the long term.
In the study, the team examined the data of 5,802 people aged 50 or more over ten years.
The moderate exercise included activities such as dancing, walking, stretching, and gardening. Mild activity included activities such as doing laundry, vacuuming, and DIY.
The team found nearly half—just over 2,400—reported they suffered from musculoskeletal pain at the end of the ten-year period.
Mild activity does help people stay well and feel better than not exercising, but mild exercise does not appear to have a long-term effect on the development of chronic pain.
Only high levels of physical activity appeared to lower the risk of someone developing musculoskeletal pain.
The activity needs to not only be vigorous, but it also needs to be done at least once a week
A person who cycles, for example, once a month and whose only other activity was light housework would still be classed as sedentary.
The team also found persistent pain was more common in women, possibly because of hormonal differences; in those who were obese or overweight, probably because extra weight adds a burden to the body’s joints; and in those who were less wealthy, possibly because higher disposable income may enable people to seek extra care, in addition to that covered by insurances or national health services, to treat ailments and injuries.
They hope the findings encourage those who design programs to help people avoid chronic pain to include regular vigorous physical activity, weight loss programs and find ways to address helping those on lower incomes.
If you care about pain management, please read studies about diabetes that may increase risk of back pain, and new way to provide pain relief without side effects.
For more information about health, please see recent studies about why cholesterol-lowering drugs can cause muscle pain, and results showing this pain medicine for headache may effectively reduce high blood pressure.
The study is published in PLOS ONE, and was conducted by Dr. Nils Niederstrasser et al.
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