Approximately 80 percent of North Americans suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lifetime, and for 85 percent of them, the pain is chronic. Researchers for the study, conducted in conjunction with the University of Regina, examined individuals who suffered from chronic lower back pain and participated in an exercise program. The study found a 60 percent improvement in pain and function levels for those who took part in a 16-week exercise program of resistance training using dumbbells, barbells, and other load-bearing exercise equipment.
In contrast, individuals who chose aerobic training -- such as jogging, walking on a treadmill, or using an elliptical machine -- to ease their back pain only experienced a 12 percent improvement, according to Robert Kell, assistant professor of exercise physiology at the university.
"Any activity that makes you feel better is something you should pursue, but the research indicates that we get better pain management results from resistance training," Kell said.
The extra benefits stem from using the whole-body approach required in resistance training, he said.
"We tried to strengthen the entire body, and by doing that, we decreased the fatigue people felt throughout the day," Kell said. "They were better able to perform their activities of daily living."
Kell said aerobics training generally works just the lower body. However, both types of training did provide other fitness benefits, such as lower body fat, he added.
The findings are to be published early this year in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.
Exercise can pay off in long run. Employees who get regular physical exercise are less likely to have musculoskeletal complaints in the future, according to a second study.
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology examined the physical exercise patterns of nearly 40,000 people and compared them to complaints of chronic musculoskeletal pain from the individuals more than a decade later. According to the study, published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders journal, people who exercised were 9 percent less likely to have chronic musculoskeletal complaints than those who were inactive. Individuals who exercised three or more times a week were 28 percent less likely to have chronic complaints.
February 5, 2009
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