March 14, 2013At some point in their lives, 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain. It is the most common cause of job-related disability and is a leading contributor to missed work, costing Americans at least $50 billion each year in health care costs. Often, lower back pain goes away within a few days, but not all of us are that lucky! Now there's good news if you or a loved one suffers from back pain! New research shows that adopting a simple aerobic walking program that includes walking two to three times a week for a period of 20 to 40 minutes can be as effective to reduce lower back pain as strengthening rehabilitation programs that depend on specialized equipment in clinics. A walking regimen fits easily into a daily routine and offers people with back pain more control and more responsibility for their own health. The study, published in the journal Clinical Rehabilitation, found that when people actively walk, the abdominal and back muscles work in basically the same way as when doing exercises that target those areas. Unlike muscle strengthening programs, which often call for specific equipment and can involve exercises that require expert supervision, and it is a simple activity that can be done alone. The study included 52 patients with lower back pain who participated in a randomized control trial. At the onset of the research, participants were assessed for pain levels, feelings of disability, limitations on daily activities, and walking endurance. Half of the group completed a typical clinic-based muscle strengthening program, with two to three exercise sessions a week for six weeks. The other half completed a six-week aerobic walking program, walking two to three times weekly, starting with 20 minutes of walking and progressing to 40 minutes as their endurance improved. Both groups improved significantly in all areas, and the walking program was found to be as effective as clinical treatment. The walking program has the additional advantage of encouraging patients to follow an overall healthier lifestyle. Spring will be here soon, what better time to take up a new walking program! It's a great low-impact activity that lowers blood pressure, boosts brain and immune system functioning, and reduces stress. It can also save your back!
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