Research Alert

Many people are affected by painful conditions like low back pain, arthritis and cancer. Pain can be difficult to treat, with few safe and effective options. Some research suggests that being physically active can reduce the severity and impact of pain. However, the optimal amount and setting that is best for pain relief remains unknown. In this study, researchers investigated the relationships between the amount and context of physical activity and pain in more than 19,000 Australian adults. They found that adults who performed activity for transportation or leisure were generally less likely to report impactful pain than those who did not. This relationship was evident with modest levels of activity and additional benefit was not gained by those who were the most active. In contrast, adults who reported more physical activity at home were more likely to be affected by pain. These results may be influenced by the type of activity performed (e.g., vacuuming or yard work compared to walking or running), the psychological effect (e.g., the drudgery of housework compared to enjoyment of outdoor exercise) and/or the impact of pain (e.g., people with more pain may spend more time indoors).