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Work out the pain

More is better when it comes to alleviating lower back pain -- more exercise, that is.

Although many people who suffer from back pain don’t exercise, fearing it will exacerbate the problem, a recent study found that exercising four days a week gave people greater relief from back pain than working out fewer times per week or not at all.

In the study, 120 people were randomly assigned to one of four groups for 12 weeks: One did a strength-training program two days a week, one did it three days a week, and one did it four days a week. A control group did no exercise but participated in a two-week exercise familiarization program. Exercises in the program included bench presses, lat pull downs and leg presses.

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Those in the four-day-a-week program had the most reduction in pain -- 28% -- compared with 14% for those who exercised two days a week. The four-day group also reported having a better quality of life and less disability than those who exercised less. In addition, it showed the greatest strength gains. The control group showed insignificant change in all areas.

The study was presented recently at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Seattle.

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jeannine.stein@latimes.com


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