The more obese a person is, the more likely the risk that they will suffer from low back pain, but they may be able to reduce the odds by engaging in a moderate amount of exercise, according to research.
The research paper is the latest to link weight and exercise to one of the most common conditions afflicting Americans and one of the first large studies to use an objective measure to study the condition: accelerometers that track a person’s daily exercise levels.
The research, which was presented last week at the North American Spine Society’s annual meeting here, analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey involving 6,796 people.
It found that in people who were normal weight, defined as a body mass index of 20 to 25, the risk of low back pain was 2.9%. BMI is the relationship between a person’s height and weight.
A person who is 5 feet 10 inches and 174 pounds has a BMI of 25.
In those who were overweight, which is a BMI of 26 to 30, low back pain risk was 5.2%. In the obese, a BMI of 31 to 35, the risk grew to 7.7%. And in the morbidly obese, a BMI of 36 or more, the risk was 11.6%.
A person who is 5 feet 10 inches and 251 pounds has a BMI of 36.
“We showed both increased BMI and inactivity were independent risks of low back pain,” said lead author Matthew Smuck, a physician and associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Stanford University Medical Center. “Perhaps the best news out of this study is that big gains can be made by making some incredibly modest changes in activity.”
The researchers found different ways to achieve the improvements:
- The typical overweight person increasing their amount of moderate activity such as brisk walking, riding a bike or general gardening by less than 20 minutes a day can reduce back pain risk by 32%.
- For those with BMIs of 36 or more, the average duration of time spent during a bout of moderate activity was 1.3 minutes. However, by increasing that time by one minute, the risk of back pain dropped 38%.
Source: www.jsonline.com; John Fauber; October 10, 2013.