Five Benefits of Exercise for Pain Relief

In Health and Wellness

Five Benefits of Exercise for Pain Relief

If you’re living with chronic pain, being active can feel like one of the hardest things in the world. No matter what the source of your pain is, decreased energy, mobility and lack of motivation almost always come with it. But even if it’s for just a few minutes a day to start with, exercise can offer surprising pain relief benefits. 

Although it won’t cure or reverse the causes of pain, a little exercise can go a long way. By integrating regular physical activity into a broader pain management plan, many people are able to noticeably improve their quality of life. 


How Exercise Can Help You Manage Pain

Here are five of the most important benefits that exercise can provide for nearly anyone living with chronic pain, and some practical tips for getting started. 


1. Increased Energy

Many chronic pain conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, and lower back pain cause fatigue as a symptom. This can create a vicious cycle of sedentary behavior that makes your pain feel worse than it is. Research has shown that even very small periods of low-impact exercise can develop improved cardiovascular fitness and reduce fatigue. 


2. Stronger, More Flexible Muscles 

Another side effect of pain-related inactivity is muscle atrophy. When muscles and connective tissue weaken due to lack of use, it can increase certain kinds of pain, particularly conditions related to nerve compression. Low-impact exercises such as yoga, pilates, and even walking are a great way to reverse this process, rebuilding a stronger and more flexible body. 


3. Improves Your Mood

It’s well documented that chronic pain has a close relationship with mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. People with chronic pain are more likely to develop these problems, which can often cause a subjective increase in pain-related symptoms. However, there is evidence that regular exercise such as walking or running can boost mood and reduce the risk of depression and other problems, including for pain sufferers.


4. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is one of the most significant contributors to chronic pain. Inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP), erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and plasma viscosity (PV) in the blood can be associated with nerve irritation and increased pain signals going to the brain. Regular exercise can actually release anti-inflammatory cytokines that help reduce markers of inflammation and pain levels. 


5. May Increase Your Pain Tolerance

No two people experience pain the same way, and pain tolerance has a lot to do with this. What is excruciating pain for one person may be far less severe for another. Although there is only so much anyone can do to change their pain tolerance, exercising might be one of those ways. Studies have found that exercising may change the way the brain processes pain while also helping to regulate the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals. 


Tips for Exercising and Integrating Fitness into Treatment

If you’re dealing with chronic pain and interested in starting an exercise routine, the first thing you should do is speak to your doctor, physical therapist, or pain management physician. A qualified professional can help you understand your current level of fitness and take steps to lower your risk of overexertion or injury. 

General tips for exercising for pain relief include:

  • Start small and build, even if you just start by walking around your house for a few minutes a day, it can be a great start
  • Be consistent — try to exercise at least three times a week 
  • Stay hydrated 
  • Make sure you stay limber with gentle stretches
  • Don’t overdo it and get as much rest as you need
  • Get a good mix of cardiovascular exercises and strengthening exercises — this is why many people turn to yoga and Pilates

Regular exercise, a healthy anti-inflammatory diet, and interventional pain management options like anti-inflammatory injections and physical therapy help many people manage pain and live a healthy lifestyle on a long-term basis. If a full course of nonsurgical treatment and commitment to a healthy lifestyle does not bring the relief necessary for a good quality of life, surgery can become a consideration for certain conditions and patients. 

No matter where you are in your treatment journey, Physician Partners of America can help. From interventional pain management to minimally invasive outpatient surgery, our experts will work with you to create an individualized treatment plan that fits your goals and lifestyle. Contact us today to learn more.


Holly Self is a Graphic Design Specialist for Physician Partners of America. Headquartered in Tampa, Fla., Physician Partners of America (PPOA) is a fast-growing national healthcare company committed to combatting the opioid crisis through interventional pain management. Founded in 2013 with three employees, it has rapidly grown to more than 500, and manages a wide range of medical practices.

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