Getting physically active and being involved in regular exercise can help to manage chronic pain, a new study has revealed.
Researchers from Norwegia analyzed the impact of physical activity on pain tolerance by evaluating data from more than 10,000 adults, who were part of a population study called Tromso.
According to the findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, physically active people have better tolerance to pain when compared to those who are sedentary.
“Becoming or staying physically active over time can benefit your pain tolerance. Whatever you do, the most important thing is that you do something,” study author Anders Arnes, from the University Hospital of North Norway, said in a news release.
Previous studies have also shown that engaging in physical activity might help reduce or prevent chronic pain by boosting pain tolerance. However, those studies had limitations as they were focused on small groups of people.
“Since physical activity also appears to be a useful tool for preventing and treating chronic pain, we are trying to figure out whether this effect on pain sensitivity tolerance be one of the mechanisms through which physical activity protects against chronic pain,” Arnes added.
Researchers examined the data from two rounds of the Tromso study between 2007 to 2008 and between 2015 to 2016. They evaluated participants’ self-reported levels of physical activity and measured their pain tolerance using a test that involves submerging their hands in cold water.
“So the most important take-home message is that any activity is better than being completely sedentary. Secondly, there were indications that both the total amount of physical activity over time, as well as the direction of change in activity level over time, matter to how high your pain tolerance is,” Arnes said.
Experts believe endorphins released during physical activity can be the key to pain relief. “Engaging in physical activity is associated with the release of endorphins, which are natural pain-relieving chemicals in the brain.” Dr. James Walker, who was not involved in the study, told Medical News Today.
“Regular physical activity can also improve cardiovascular health, increase blood flow, and reduce inflammation, which can contribute to an individual’s pain tolerance. It is likely that the combination of these factors contributes to the higher pain tolerance observed in individuals with higher levels of physical activity,” Walker added.
Researchers also found the findings were applicable across the population and were independent of whether the pain was chronic or if the participants were men or women.
Published by Medicaldaily.com
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