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Study shows regular walking may reduce risk of low back pain

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People who walk regularly are less likely to suffer from low back pain, a new study suggests.

Physical activity such as muscle strengthening and aerobic exercise is already known to be effective for low back pain. However, the research published in Spine Journal provides new insight into the association between back pain and weekly walking duration.

Researchers in South Korea examined data from national health and nutrition surveys that were conducted from 2010 to 2015. In particular they looked at the association between low back pain and overall walking days per week in a general population over 50 years of age.

Daily walking (low-intensity activity) was evaluated using two questions: (1) “During the last 7 days, on how many days did you walk for at least 10 minutes at a time? This includes at work and at home, walking to travel from place to place, and any other walking that you have done solely for recreation, sport, exercise, or leisure.” (2) “How much time did you usually spend walking on each of those days?” Walking duration per day was classified into two categories: over 30 minutes/day and over 1 hour/day. Overall walking days per week were categorised into <3, 3-4, and ≥5 days/week.

The results showed that longer walking duration was associated with a lower risk of low back pain in the general population aged over 50 years.

Specifically, people who walked for more than three days per week for over 30 minutes at a time were less likely to experience low back pain.

“Clinicians should be aware that regular walking for over 30 minutes three times per week is negatively related with low back pain; therefore, they should advise patients with low back pain to increase their walking duration for optimal low back pain improvement,” the study authors concluded.