Aerobic Training Increases Pain Tolerance in Healthy Individuals

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The hypoalgesic effects of acute exercise are well documented. However, the effect of chronic exercise training on pain sensitivity is largely unknown.PurposeTo examine the effect of aerobic exercise training on pain sensitivity in healthy individuals.MethodsPressure 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.ResultsSignificant 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.ConclusionModerate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise training increases ischemic pain tolerance in healthy individuals.

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