Biking Puts a New Spin on Back Pain for Aging AdultsWhat's the one thing that can prevent falls, raise self-esteem, improve mood, reduce weakness, and slow the effects of aging? Exercise. What's the biggest problem with this solution? Actually doing it. People often get a good start, but they don't keep it up. They sometimes say it's "boring" or that it takes too much time.
When it comes to chronic low back pain from aging, endurance exercise is safe and effective. It improves function and well-being. So says a group of researchers from Boston area medical schools.
They used a program of stationary bicycling to observe the effects of exercise on older adults with low back or leg pain. In all cases the pain was made worse by standing up straight (extension) and better by sitting down (flexion).
Each subject used the bike at home for 12 weeks. The exercise program was done four days a week for 30 minutes each day. This form of exercise is called endurance training.
At the end of 12 weeks most of the subjects actually exercised 2.2 times a week. Those who exercised more had greater gains in strength, function, and mental health. The most common reason for quitting was painful joints. In some cases the patients' doctors or therapists advised them to stop.
The authors conclude that an at-home bicycle program has many benefits for older adults with certain back conditions. A bike program is a good choice when standing up straight causes pain. Decreased pain, more comfort and distance while walking, and improved quality of life are just a few of the changes reported by the participants.
Maura D. Iversen, ScD, et al. Enhancing Function in Older Adults with Chronic Low Back Pain: A Pilot Study of Endurance Training. In Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. September 2003. Vol. 84. No. 9. Pp. 1324-1331.
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