Obesity and lack of exercise increase risk of chronic pain

June 21, 2011 in Nutrition Topics in the News, Sports Nutrition and Exercise, Weight Management

Obesity and lack of exercise increase risk of chronic pain

New study findings from researchers at Norwegian University of Science and Technology are reporting that people who get at least one hour a week of physical activity have a lower risk of chronic pain.

To investigate, researchers followed more than 30,000 adults for 11 years.  Researchers recorded participants' body mass index (BMI), and how often they exercised. 

The authors divided the participants into four categories based on how often they exercised, and four categories based on their BMI. They also looked at how many people in each category developed chronic neck, shoulder, and lower back pain.

Overall, 1 of every 10 people in the study developed lower back pain, and nearly 2 of every 10 developed shoulder or neck pain.

After taking into account participants' age, BMI, whether or not they smoked, and whether they did manual labor at work, researchers found that men who were exercising 2 hours or more per week at the start of the study were 25 percent less likely to have lower back pain 11 years later, and 20 percent less like to have neck or shoulder pain, compared men who didn't exercise at all.

Women who exercised at least 2 hours per week were 8 percent less likely to develop lower back pain than women who were inactive, and 9 percent less likely to develop neck and shoulder pain.

Weight, not surprisingly, also affected the risk of chronic pain during the study.

Researchers found that obese men were almost 21 percent more likely to develop chronic lower back pain than men of normal weight, and 22 percent more likely to develop neck or shoulder pain.

Likewise, obese women were 21 percent more likely to develop lower back pain than women of normal weight, and 19 percent more likely to develop neck and shoulder pain.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Earlier this year, the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology released new guidelines suggesting Canadian adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity per week.  For more information, click here.

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