Alleviate chronic joint pain with just a few minutes of walking, experts claim

Simple exercises can help ease chronic joint pain, experts said.

Joint pain happens occasionally such as when you suffered an injury. It typically goes away on its own after a couple of days. In other cases, however, joint pain can recur for prolonged periods of time, resulting in discomfort that could even affect your body’s performance throughout the day.

You might have tried several therapies to relieve joint pain. But still, the constant ache is there in the joints, seemingly unperturbed.

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It turns out there is a simple and easy pain reliever just right around the corner: walking.

Exercise to relieve pain

Neuroscientist Benedict Kolber of Duquesne University said that the science behind the analgesic effects of walking lies in the brain. According to Kolber, exercise engages the endogenous opioid system that regulates pain, reward and addictive behaviors. When a person exercises, the body makes opioids which it uses to alleviate pain. Furthermore, exercise triggers the release of endorphins that improve mood and lessens stress. All of this can help you feel less pain.

“We get pain signals that are coming from our hands to our spinal cord and up to our brain. And then we get these control systems – parts of our brain that seem to be activated in exercise – and that then turns down the pain system,” explained Kolber.

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A study also shows that regular exercise can increase a person’s pain tolerance, or the degree to which someone can withstand pain. For the study, researchers recruited 24 healthy but inactive adults, half of whom did a program of moderate stationary biking for 30 minutes three times a week. The rest of the participants remained inactive.

After six weeks, those who exercised demonstrated higher pain tolerance than before exercise. Participants whose fitness increased the most also showed the greatest increase in pain tolerance.

These results could be applied to how a person experiences joint pain. With a higher pain tolerance, one is more capable of withstanding the discomfiting sensation that comes with chronic joint pain.

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Experts also said that limiting one’s movement in the hopes that it will make the pain go away can only weaken muscles, which could worsen joint trouble and affect posture.

Brisk walking: A simple pain reliever

Any kind of exercise can work, but walking tends to be the least demanding and the easiest physical activity for people to commit to doing regularly. Even a half-hour of brisk walking can be an effective pain reliever, according to Kolber who conducted a study to calculate how much exercise a person has to do to reap its analgesic benefits.

He tested on 40 healthy women over the course of a week and monitored pain sensitivity before and after periods of exercise. The participants performed brisk walking for 30 minutes. Some of the participants did the exercise three times a week while others did it for five to 10 times.

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Kolber found that those who walked five or more times a week experienced 60 percent less pain than they reported before exercising. (: The activity of walking now called the ‘superfood’ of fitness.)

While the results might have varied based on a person’s pain response, the study shows that brisk walking has big potential to relieve pain. It’s very easy to follow and adhere to, which can be helpful for people who are new to working out. For such individuals, experts recommend starting with five minutes of brisk walking a day and working their way up to 30 minutes, five or more days a week.

Exercise physiologist Kirsten Ambrose said, “Five minutes is very easy to think about. Small chunks to start with and slowly progressing is the best way to go.”

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Learn more about the benefits of exercise at

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