fbpx Skip to content

ADVERTISEMENT

Exercise and Pain Perception in Older Adults

| Earn 1 CEC - Take Quiz

Can physical activity help us modulate pain? New findings from Indiana University—Purdue University Indianapolis suggest that physical activity could offer some relief.

The study, published in PAIN (2017; 158 [3], 383—90), aimed to determine if physical activity levels could predict how the nervous system interprets and perceives pain. Fifty–one adults aged 60—77 were recruited to participate. Prior to testing, each wore an accelerometer for 7
days to measure activity levels.

Participants then underwent a series of tests to determine pain perception and levels of pain inhibition. One test required participants to rate pain intensity levels after experiencing a painful stimulus. In another test, their forearms were placed under gradually increasing pressure, and the adults pressed a button when the sensation became painful. The information gathered from these tests was compared against the accelerometer data.

The researchers found that daily physical activity levels did predict pain perception and inhibition, with the intensity of the activity influencing specific outcomes. Those who logged higher levels of moderate to vigorous activity perceived less "facilitation of pain," meaning they scored lower on production of pain responses to painful stimuli. Those who were not so vigorous but maintained levels of light physical activity during the day (i.e., were not too sedentary) scored higher on "pain inhibition," meaning they were better able to block pain.

"This study provides the first objective evidence suggesting that physical activity behavior is related to the functioning of the endogenous pain modulatory systems in healthy older adults," the authors reported. "These results highlight the significance of considering physical activity behavior when examining experimental models of pain modulation between different populations of people (e.g., young versus old), particularly given that many older adults and individuals with chronic pain are deconditioned and sedentary."

ideafit-plus-logo

Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor. He is a long-time author and presenter for IDEA Health & Fitness Association, fitness industry consultant and former director of group training for Bird Rock Fit. He is also a Master Trainer for TriggerPoint.

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.

ADVERTISEMENT

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up tp date with our latest news and products.