Exercise can help increase pain tolerance

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Recent research from UiT The Arctic University of Norway, the University Hospital of North Norway (UNN), and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health brings encouraging news for those looking to ward off chronic pain.

In a study involving over 10,000 adults, findings highlighted a clear link between physical activity and a higher tolerance for pain. The more active the lifestyle, the greater the capacity to handle pain, the study suggests.

Delving deeper into the long-term benefits of exercise, the research team sought to understand if physical activity could influence the likelihood of experiencing chronic pain years down the line.

Their curiosity also extended to whether this potential benefit was related to physical activity’s effect on pain tolerance.

Doctoral fellow Anders Årnes, part of the research team, shares that an active lifestyle significantly reduces the risk of developing various types of chronic pain 7-8 years later.

A modest increase in activity, from light to moderate levels, could decrease the risk of chronic pain by 5%.

More vigorous activity was linked to an even more significant reduction, slashing the risk of severe, widespread chronic pain by 16%.

To explore this connection, the researchers engaged nearly 7,000 participants from the extensive Tromsø study, which tracks health and lifestyle trends.

They assessed participants’ exercise habits and their ability to withstand cold-induced pain in a controlled setting. The team then monitored these individuals for the onset of chronic pain lasting three months or more, including pain that was both widespread and severe.

The findings, published in the journal PAIN—Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, revealed that while 60% of participants reported some form of chronic pain, only a small fraction experienced severe pain in multiple body areas.

These insights suggest that the enhanced pain tolerance from regular physical activity may serve as a protective barrier against the development of severe chronic pain.

This reinforces the idea that staying active not only benefits overall health but may also be a key factor in preventing chronic pain conditions.

For those already dealing with chronic pain, Årnes advises that exercise remains a safe and beneficial practice.

Tailoring an exercise regimen to manage effort levels can make a significant difference, and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals experienced in chronic pain can provide additional support.

The key is to ensure that any increase in pain does not persist over time, though some discomfort following exercise is normal.

This research underscores the importance of incorporating physical activity into our daily routines, not just for immediate health benefits but also as a preventive measure against future chronic pain.

It opens the door to a healthier, more pain-resilient future, emphasizing that a little more activity today can lead to a significantly better quality of life tomorrow.

If you care about pain, please read studies about how to manage your back pain, and Krill oil could improve muscle health in older people.

For more information about pain, please see recent studies about how to live pain-free with arthritis, and results showing common native American plant may help reduce diarrhea and pain.

The research findings can be found in PAIN—Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain.

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