New Study Shows How Working Out
Makes You Stronger… And Tougher
Lifting weights and cardio workouts do more than just improve your beach bod.
While many people are drawn to exercise as a means of bulking or toning up their glamour muscles, there are also tremendous practical benefits to increased physical activity – including better mental health, healthier organs, improved metabolism, increased energy and higher quality sleep.
One aspect of fitness that is often overlooked in our modern world, however, is that of pain tolerance. A new study published in the journal PLOS One revealed how moving more increases a person’s toughness and lessens the need for medication to treat chronic pain.
Researchers in Norway analyzed data from more than 10,000 adults and found that people who were physically active had higher pain tolerance than those who were sedentary, and that those with a higher level of activity had a higher level of pain tolerance. Their conclusions indicate that regular exercise is an effective way to reduce or prevent chronic pain without using prescription drugs. A press release provided the following summary of the study:
The data included participants’ self-reported levels of physical activity and their levels of pain tolerance, as evaluated in a test involving submersing their hand in cold water.
Statistical analysis of the data showed that participants who reported being physically active in either round of the Tromsø Study had higher pain tolerance than those who reported a sedentary lifestyle in both rounds. Participants with higher total activity levels had higher pain tolerance, and those who had higher activity in 2015/2016 than in 2007/2008 had a higher overall level of pain tolerance.
The analysis did not show a statistically significant relationship between activity level and changes in pain tolerance between the two rounds of the study. Nonetheless, it suggests that remaining physically active, becoming active, or boosting activity is linked to higher pain tolerance.
On the basis of their findings, the researchers suggest that boosting physical activity could be a potential strategy for easing or staving off chronic pain. Future research could help confirm whether there is indeed a cause-and-effect relationship between activity and pain tolerance and evaluate potential therapeutic applications.
The authors of the study also shared some practical advice for their readers.
“Becoming or staying physically active over time can benefit your pain tolerance,” they wrote. “Whatever you do, the most important thing is that you do something!”