An analysis of data from over 10,000 participants shows that all physically active individuals had a higher pain tolerance compared to sedentary individuals and that individuals who had a higher activity level had a higher pain tolerance level.
Previous studies have suggested the possibility that routinely participating in a higher physical activity level may help prevent or ease chronic pain by increasing pain tolerance. The majority of studies on this subject have however been small or targeted a narrow groups of individuals.
To help shed light on the connection between pain tolerance and physical activity, the researchers analyzed data from 10,732 individuals who took part in the Tromsø Study, a large population survey study that’s carried out periodically.
The researchers made use of data from 2 rounds of the Tromsø Study, 1 carried out from 2007 until 2008 and the other carried out from 2015 until 2016. The data included self-reported physical activity levels and pain tolerance levels, as assessed in a test that involved submersing one of their hands in cold water.
A statistical analysis of the data revealed that individuals who reported physical activity in either round of the Study had a higher pain tolerance compared to individuals who reported being sedentary in both study rounds.
Individuals with higher levels of total activity had a higher pain tolerance, and individuals with a higher activity level from 2015 until 2016 compared to 2007 until 2008 had a higher overall pain tolerance level.
The analysis didn’t indicate a statistically significant connection between the level of activity and pain tolerance changes between the 2 study rounds. Nevertheless, it indicates that staying physically active, getting active, or increasing activity is associated with higher pain tolerance.
Based on the results, the researchers indicate that increasing physical activity may well be a potential strategy for easing or preventing chronic pain. Getting or remaining physically active over time can help improve pain tolerance.
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