Staying Fit May Fight Joint Pain

Elderly runners felt better despite a higher rate of fractures, study found

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MONDAY, Sept. 19, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- You can't run away from pain -- or can you? A new study of older runners suggests that staying active keeps joint pain at bay.

The 14-year study of 866 people (492 runners and 374 controls) concluded that those who got regular exercise experienced 25 percent less joint and muscle pain as they aged compared to less-active people.

According to the Stanford University researchers, the study participants were, on average, in their mid-60s at the start of the study. Each year, the participants filled out a questionnaire on their health status, exercise habits and injury history. The physically active group spent between 6 and 35 hours exercising each week over the course of the study. In contrast, those in the control group were closer to the classic "couch potato."

"Exercise was associated with a substantial and significant reduction in pain even ... despite the fact that fractures, a significant predictor of pain, were slightly more common among runners," the study authors wrote in the journal Arthritis Research & Therapy.

Further research is needed in order to better understand how exercise affects musculoskeletal pain in older people, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Aging has more about exercise and seniors.

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, Sept. 19, 2005

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