People who exercise regularly experience 25% less muscle and joint painin their old age than people who are less active. Research published inArthritis Research & Therapy reveals that people who regularlyparticipate in brisk aerobic exercise, such as running, experience lesspain than non-runners even though they are more likely to suffer frompain from injuries.
Bonnie Bruce and colleagues from Stanford University, USA, comparedthe level of pain in a group of runners and a group of community-basedindividuals who acted as controls. Participants were followed for 14years, and were on average in their mid-sixties when the study started.Each year, they completed a questionnaire about their health status,exercise habits and history of injuries. In total, the study included866 subjects: 492 Runners' Association members and 374 controls.
Bruce et al.'s results show that the greater majority ofphysically active participants did, on average, between 355 and 2,119minutes of exercise per week over the course of the study, whilecontrols exercised significantly less. After adjusting for confoundingfactors such as gender, age, weight and health status the results showthat pain increased in both groups over time. But members of theRunners' Association experienced 25% less musculoskeletal pain thancontrols. This reduction persisted throughout the study period, untilthe subjects reached an age of 62 to 76 years.
"Exercise was associated with a substantial and significant reduction in pain even […] despitethe fact that fractures, a significant predictor of pain, were slightlymore common among runners", conclude the authors.
More research is needed to investigate the mechanisms thatmight underlie the effect of exercise on musculoskeletal pain in oldage.
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