Active people can handle more pain, study finds

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A recent study shows that active adults can tolerate pain better than those who don’t exercise much.

This study included over 10,000 people and was shared by Anders Årnes from the University Hospital of North Norway in PLOS ONE, a journal that anyone can read, on May 24, 2023.

Looking Back: Earlier Research

Earlier studies hinted that doing lots of exercise might help ease long-term pain or even stop it from starting by making people more tolerant of pain.

But, these studies were often small or only included certain types of people.

The New Study: Linking Exercise and Pain Tolerance

To understand the link between exercise and pain tolerance better, Årnes and his team looked at data from 10,732 adults in Norway. These adults were part of a big survey study called the Tromsø Study.

The researchers used data from two rounds of the Tromsø Study. The first round was from 2007 to 2008, and the second round was from 2015 to 2016.

The data had information about how much exercise the participants did and how much pain they could handle. The pain tolerance was tested by making participants put their hand in cold water.

The Findings: More Exercise, More Pain Tolerance

The data showed that adults who were active in either round of the Tromsø Study could handle pain better than those who didn’t exercise much in both rounds.

People who did more exercise overall could handle more pain. Also, people who did more exercise in 2015/2016 than in 2007/2008 had higher overall pain tolerance.

The study didn’t find a clear link between how much a person’s exercise level changed and how much their pain tolerance changed between the two rounds of the study.

But, it did suggest that keeping active, starting to exercise, or doing more exercise can all make people more tolerant of pain.

Conclusion: Exercise Might Help Ease Chronic Pain

Based on what they found, the researchers suggest that doing more exercise could be a way to ease long-term pain or keep it from starting.

More studies are needed to confirm whether exercising more actually makes people more tolerant of pain and to explore how this could be used in treatments.

The researchers concluded, “If you start exercising or keep exercising over time, you might handle pain better. The most important thing is that you do something.”

If you care about pain, please read studies about why cholesterol-lowering drug statins can cause muscle pain, and new device to treat pain without using drugs.

For more information about wellness, please see recent studies that common painkiller ibuprofen may strongly influence your liver, and nearly 1 in 3 people with chronic pain turn to marijuana.

The study was published in PLOS ONE.

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