This probably comes as no surprise. That the risks of obesity and effects of lack of exercise can lead to the onset of chronic pain. A recent study has found that those who partake in some form of exercise for at least an hour each week have a reduced risk of pain in the back, neck and shoulders.
This finding supports the idea that obesity and being inactive might just play a significant part in the chances of chronic pain occurring in these parts of the body.
The researchers followed over 30,000 adult subjects who were taking part in a larger health study. Recordings were made of subjects' body mass index at the study outset, and the participants were also questioned about how long they exercised. They were then tracked for 11 years.
The subjects were divided into four groups based on how active they were, and four groups according to their BMI measurement alone.
The research team also examined how many of the subjects in each group developed chronic pain in the neck, shoulder or lower back. Overall, one of every ten subjects developed pain in the lower back; nearly 20% had pain in either the shoulder or neck.
After accounting for age, BMI, smoking status and the type of job (manual labor vs desk job) they had, the researchers discovered that men who exercised for 2 or more hours a week at the beginning of the research had a 25% lower risk of suffering from lower back pain; 20% less likely to experience shoulder and/or neck pain when compared to those who were not active at all.
For women who worked out for that same 2 hours each week, the numbers were smaller but still impressive - exercisers had an 8% reduced risk of lower back pain compared to those who were inactive; 9% less likely to experience neck and/or shoulder pain than their sedentary counterparts.
No surprise that weight also was a factor in chronic pain. Obese men had a 21% more risk of lower back pain compared to normal weight men; 22% more likely to have neck and/or shoulder pain than those of normal weight.
For women, obesity made it 21% more likely you'd had chronic pain in the lower back; 19% more likely to have neck and/or shoulder pain than women at a normal weight.
Remember that the study wasn't designed to prove cause and effect. No one is saying that not doing exercise causes chronic pain, or that frequent workouts would keep it at bay. Those with chronic pain are likely dealing with a complex condition that researchers have yet to understand.
These results do suggest that even moderate exercise, an hour or more each week, can compensate for the effects of being too heavy on chronic pain risk in the future. Anyone who now struggles with this type of unrelenting pain will tell you that preventing it is far better than living with it.
Pain in the lower back, neck and shoulders impacts quality of life and need for health care resources, it takes days away from work and your family and it takes a silent, steady toll on your mind and your will.
If you've been inactive for a bit, talk with your doctor before starting any exercise program to avoid any side effects of lack of exercise like pulled muscles or strained tendons. Once you get the okay, you'll be amazed at the many benefits that will come with just a little more activity as you lower your risks of obesity.
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