The saying goes “no pain, no gain.” But new research suggests the saying “gain to feel less pain” is also true.
A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found that starting a regular exercise regimen significantly boosts a person’s pain tolerance. For the study, participants underwent a base pain-threshold test where they squeezed an object while a blood pressure cuff inflated around their arm until they started to feel discomfort. Then 12 of the volunteers started a regular exercise program, biking for 30 minutes three times a week, while another 12 went about their normal routine.
After six weeks, the exercisers boosted their pain tolerance while the control group did not. According to Lead Researcher Matthew Jones, who spoke with the New York Times, exercise may change the way we think about pain.“Participants who exercised had become more stoical and perhaps did not find the pain as threatening after exercise training, even though it still hurt as much,” Jones said.
The article suggests that the more we exercise, the less painful it'll become—an obvious statement for anyone getting in shape, but one that is now backed by science. Perhaps more importantly, according to The Times, people with chronic pain may benefit from getting fit. Their pain may not decrease, but the way their mind handles it might.