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Exercise could increase your pain tolerance

By Cara Murez

health day reporter

THURSDAY, May 25, 2023 (HealthDay News) — A potential solution to reducing chronic pain: get moving.

A new study from Norway reveals that physically active people have a higher pain tolerance than sedentary people. Those with higher activity levels also had higher pain tolerance, according to the report published online May 24 in PLOS ONE.

“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 Årnes, a doctoral student at the University Hospital of North Norway, and colleagues said in a press release.

For the study, investigators analyzed data from more than 10,000 adults who participated in a large population-based survey conducted periodically in Norway.

Using data from two cycles of the study – 2007 to 2008 and 2015 to 2016 – the researchers looked at participants’ self-reported levels of physical activity and their levels of pain tolerance. Pain tolerance was tested by immersing a hand in cold water.

Those who reported being physically active in either cycle of the study had higher pain tolerance than those who reported a sedentary lifestyle in both cycles.

Additionally, participants with higher total activity levels had higher pain tolerance. Those who had higher activity in the second round than in the first round had a higher overall level of pain tolerance, the results showed.

The researchers did not find a statistically significant relationship between activity level and changes in pain tolerance between the two cycles of the study.

However, they said, the results suggest that staying physically active, becoming active or boosting activity is linked to greater pain tolerance.

Boosting physical activity could be a potential strategy for alleviating or warding off chronic pain, the study authors suggested.

Future research could help confirm whether there is indeed a causal relationship between activity and pain, they noted.

More information

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say more about the benefits of physical activity.

SOURCE: PLOS ONEpress release, May 25, 2023

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