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Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000273
Applied Sciences

Aerobic Training Increases Pain Tolerance in Healthy Individuals

JONES, MATTHEW D.1; BOOTH, JOHN1; TAYLOR, JANET L.1,2; BARRY, BENJAMIN K.1,2

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Abstract

The hypoalgesic effects of acute exercise are well documented. However, the effect of chronic exercise training on pain sensitivity is largely unknown.

Purpose: To examine the effect of aerobic exercise training on pain sensitivity in healthy individuals.

Methods: Pressure pain threshold, ischemic pain tolerance and pain ratings during ischemia were assessed in 24 participants before and after 6 wk of structured aerobic exercise training (n = 12) or after 6 wk of usual physical activity (n = 12). The exercise training regimen consisted of cycling three times per week for 30 min at 75% of maximal oxygen consumption reserve.

Results: Significant increases in aerobic fitness (P = 0.004) and ischemic pain tolerance (P = 0.036) were seen in the exercise group after training, whereas pressure pain threshold and pain ratings during ischemia were unchanged (P > 0.2). No change in aerobic fitness (P > 0.1) or pain sensitivity (P > 0.1) was observed in the control group.

Conclusion: Moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise training increases ischemic pain tolerance in healthy individuals.

© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine

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