Another great aricle from Daily Health News. It's about exercise and its affects on pain in seniors. After reading this, it should make every senior want to start exercising!
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Exercisers Ache Less than Sedentary Folks Frequent Workouts Inhibit Pain, Study Says
People have all kinds of excuses not to exercise, and one I have heard often is that it causes too many aches and pains, especially among older people. Not so, says a study from Stanford University, which found that older people who regularly exercise actually experience considerably less musculoskeletal pain.
THE STUDY DETAILS
Over a 14-year period, researchers tracked 866 people, 492 of whom were members of a runners association... and 374 nonmembers who served as control subjects.
All participants were also divided into either "Ever Runners" (565) or "Never Runners" (301). When the study began, participants were on average in their early to mid-sixties. Each year they filled out extensive questionnaires about how much they exercised, what type of exercise they were doing and their history of musculoskeletal injuries. After adjusting for age, body mass index, gender, health behaviors, history of arthritis and other conditions, the study team discovered that the people who continued to be most active had 25% less pain than their sedentary peers.
The amount of exercise performed by active runners' association members and "Ever Runners"
was considerable and showed a wide range -- from just under six hours a week to a hefty 35 hours per week.
I spoke with Bonnie Bruce, DrPH, who was the lead author of the study, to explore what can be generalized about exercise and pain. She said the study looked at the effects of various types of vigorous aerobic activity (rapid walking, swimming, biking, hiking, racquet sports and others) that produced a sweat and a heart rate above 120 -- and theorizes several possible explanations for why the most active exercisers experienced less pain. It might reflect endorphin release, increased resistance to musculoskeletal injury (by building resilience through strength training) or a psychologically-based increase in pain threshold. There are likely many other plausible associations that will be identified over time. But whatever the reason, the outcome is clear -- exercise is a winning proposition.
Dr. Bruce points out that even people with less physical functioning in their lower body can still perform a number of activities that involve upper body work, including swimming and using some of the specialized equipment at gyms today.
Every movement counts, says Dr. Bruce, so do all you can to move throughout the day. Note: If you've avoided exercise for fear of pain, be sure to have your doctor double check that there are no injuries before you start a regimen.
Bonnie Bruce, DrPH, senior research scientist, department of immunology and rheumatology, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California.
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